When you take an insight and put it into language you gain in portability what you lose in applicability. When you put it in written language the portability is even greater but the applicability is much harder.
Consider a very general commandment: “You shall not steal.” It is highly portable across kilometers centuries and situations but very difficult to apply. What belongs to who in this situation? A massive communal undertaking — law, education, families — is required to take the portable commandment and apply it.
The single unspeakable commandment can be approximated: right now do what you and only you are called upon to do. Hear the call and respond to it — not by obeying it precisely but by relating to it.
This commandment is formulated in the Talmudic story of Reb Zusya who worried on his deathbed that God would ask him not –“why were you not like Moses” — but — “why were you not like Zusya?”
Yet expressed in the wrong words the insight of Zusya becomes the the cliche of Polonius: “This above all to thine own self be true”, which Shakespeare immediately mocks and cancels by adding “and you shall not be false to any man” — which is clearly false. You can be true to yourself and for example lie. Or break promises. So Polonius’s smug logic is revealed as self-deceptive as you are thereby false to those you lie to and break promises to. Assuming we know in the situation what being false, lying and breaking a promise means, which until we are true to the ultimate, unspeakable commandment we do not. We are just playing politics.
The deepest truth of our situation becomes a self-deceptive cliche when we try to make it portable, — that is if we try to take the unspeakable commandment and put it into words.
It doesn’t need to be portable, and it doesn’t need to be expressible, which is good, because it isn’t. We can take the call of the moment respond to it, and move on.
Except of course that because we keep moving we are always striking camp and pitching it next morning. So we are always tempted to take our response to the solicitations of this moment and carry them into the next.
Our pain and glory lies in the fact that as of right now it is a temptation we can never ignore and never give into.