By Poet and Artist, Vaishali Paliwal

The Unknown Unknown: A New Myth Unfolding ©Vaishali Paliwal

“There are known knowns, things we know that we know; and there are known unknowns, things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don’t know.” -Donald Rumsfeld

‘Shatter Belief’ is my attempt to understand the brutality of this increasingly polarized world and the accompanying narratives of hate and divisiveness. While there are signs of awareness and awakening, violence and discrimination continue across the globe. To take a stand and to not take a stand have both become equally difficult endeavours leading to either a state of exhaustion or a state of defeat or toxic wars.

An artist further struggles with the role she must play in this confusing landscape, whether of activism or a surrendering canvas or inventing a new saga more painful than a birth only best left to the masters of the craft. Why has it become so impossible to engage across the different spectrums of ideologies and beliefs? Perhaps because each one of them is concluded as dangerous and threatening by the other, which might as well be the truth, but whose truth and what truth?

Abuse is abuse. How can there be shades of grey in it? Why can’t we find one definition of unity, one definition of ugliness? Extreme polarization is a sign of severe insecurities and perceived threats to respective ecosystems. Perhaps if we find reasons behind these fears, we could reach the heart of the opponent, of ourselves. Perhaps we are talking about something beyond listening, forgiveness and compassion. We are talking about the courage to plunge into the unknown of ‘both the sides’. We are talking about not attacking the beliefs, but shattering and reinventing through our mysticism, our intuition, and an ever-expansive soul.  Join me in this new myth unfolding.

Whose sun is this? Water of the angels asks.

Somewhere near I feel like I will lose my ink.


A delusional poet will discard art. Rate colour.

Rot of religion will swallow the eyes of the calf.


Who am I to guard justice? Ask for books for

the lost child. Ask for a raincoat for the mother.


Should I shelter peace? Write of jannat?

Plot resurrections? Be your goddess?


Should I sink in on the runway waiting for

departures? Tear away the sky bit by bit.


Best things I wrote were both of design,

of surrender. They were not mine. Not of light.


Make your own meaning. I will not write mine.

I will braid my thin hair, fly into the white void,


Shatter belief.

About the artist:

Vaishali Paliwal is a poet and artist from India currently residing in Pittsburgh. Her published poetry collections are ‘Lion’s Tooth On Migrating Chests’ (Soap Box Press) and ‘Water Bearer’s Song’ (Finishing Line Press). Her art has been displayed in several art galleries and community events. Inspired by the mystery of human experience and the mysticism behind natural elements, Vaishali explores the pockets of absence in the spectrum of multiple polarities and realities. She likes to create with threads, colours and things of the earth and aspires to build model art villages that re-establish harmony between humans and nature.