The Liminal Degree



“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” ― Niels Bohr


Paradox, ambiguity, uncertainty; these are the sort of concepts which, if you think about them for long enough, will probably start to make you feel a little giddy, a little uncomfortable, perhaps even a little queasy. Almost by definition they are confusing, contradictory, non-logical ideas; portals to the fathomless realms of the unknown. And, as H.P. Lovecraft observed in the introduction to his 1927 essay, Supernatural Horror, “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” [^1]

In a 2016 psychology review and research synthesis about fundamental fears, R. Nicholas Carleton supports Lovecraft by positing that fear of the unknown, or ‘FOTU’ is quite possibly the fundamental fear. He notes that, ‘FOTU tautologically does not require a priori learning; indeed, the first thing that could be feared would be “the perceived absence of information at any level of consciousness.”’ [^2]

From the abyss of the unknown out of the very fabric of our fears, we conjure demons, fiends and nameless horrors; they are legion. We learned this as children when, without conscious effort, we materialised monsters under our beds, in our cupboards, in the darkened doorways of our rooms. Of course as we grew up we learned to dispel such childish fears with reason. Relax. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Ah yes sweet logic is the light which banishes the darkness of the unknown. And so when ideas like paradox pop up, ideas which defy coherent rationale, it’s no wonder we almost always pull ourselves away with a slightly unsettled shudder.

So settle in, if you’re game, while we explore that uncomfortable little idea that is paradox. Paradox which seems to characterize so many of the big problems at the forefront of modern science; paradox which has fascinated and confounded philosophers for millennia; paradox, without which mathematics could not have solved the problems on which all modern technology relies.


The Liminal Degree is many things, including this place, where I am exploring ideas through writing.

I once heard someone say that a thought is not complete until it is written down. While I don’t entirely agree, there is still an essential truth to this; a truth which is also at the heart of my approach here.

If you want to know why I don’t entirely agree, you simply have to open any number of websites or social media feeds and you’ll very quickly encounter many written thoughts which are clearly unfinished. It is true however that writing, just like speaking or any form of expression really, extends and evolves thought; it can take an idea further, and that is what I am hoping for here.

All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical.

The Medium is the MASSAGE, Mashall mcLuhan & Quentin Fiore, 1967

So this is a place where I can get some thoughts out of my head so that they may grow.

Mostly I’ll be paddling around in the pools of:



#esoteric #occult

#magic / #magick


Sometimes there may be #poetry

The knot is never untangled, the poem never finished

From the conversation turning point

Her cornered eye catches

Impressions of a tale

Spinning always out of sight;

Desired despite knowing

Grasping ends the giddiness

Because I’m a tweaker, a perpetual knob twiddler, someone who finds it difficult to finish things, I’ve decided to publish often and redraft live. So the version of this page you’re reading now may well not be here tomorrow. I want to allow posts to ferment and evolve.

As a reader this may seem unsettling, but for me, as a writer, it’s truly liberating.

~Last Edited: 13 November 2022~