This passing season has brought my lines of thought (which seem to flow towards an end of a ball of
yarn which never reveals itself to light) to an almost unbearable predicament. I have confronted, it
appears, that stark contradiction at the core of all ideas (the dichotomy, hypocrisy of thought at it's
bone) and this encounter has rendered me unable to define, describe, justify anything (whether it be
an event, an impression, or a comparison of labels). What do you make of this situation? Is it a path
towards a greater understanding, or, is it, on the contrary, a waterwell I have found that I have begun
to sink in?
My particular concern is this difficulty I have with the comparison of labels (or, any fixed ideas). The
contradiction in any comparison I attempt to make seems to spoil my mind (whichever decision I
choose!) Within virtually anything — this question not withstanding — I am stricken with this
dichotomy of doubt and indefinability.
This question might be clarified: How might I find the tools to communicate a contrast of any two
ideas in the most understandable perspective? I do realize, that this core of misunderstanding that
contains me might very well live in my veins until my death ...... but for the purpose of social relations,
where can thought be best expressed and sacrificed in speech for an optimal conveyance of meaning
to another person? (without having to ramble such as THIS??)
Well, you know, I don't think there's any way out of it, when you come right down to it. You can look at
Socrates and Plato on the idea of dialogfor a dynamic kind of working out of this sort of dualism. You
can look at Hegel's idea of the dynamic of thesis, counterthesis, and synthesis... not a bad verbal
description of mental (particularly cognitive, in Hegel's case) feedback effects, but I don't much like
the rest of Hegel, myself.
But your dilemma is really more profound than that, and the only people who even begin to address it
are existentialists and phenomenologists... inasmuch as they do. The whole convoluted metaphorical
morass of postmodernism celebratesyour dilemma... just take a look at Derrida, for example. I
actually have a sneaking liking for his idea of "difference"... the idea that there are cracks, so to
speak, in between meanings, however precise we make them, which we can't help but fall into.
Neato... but where does it get you, finally, except to emphasize the realization of the ultimate
imprecision of language of any sort? Then what?
I mean... it's true, to an extent. You, and the rest of us, are stuck. That's not to say we can't
communicate, mind you... but precision? Forget it. But what do you want, telepathy? We do the best
we can with what we've got. We have the same problem externally that we do internally... how do we
know the world? Well, we fumble, right? And gradually work towards something. And that's it... the
final, the ultimate... is just our fumbling around. But without infinite knowledge, without telepathy, that
isit, for anyone or anything. There will always be veils, internally and externally, because the
separation that allows thought, modelingof the world and ourselves, also prevents contact, internal
as well as external. But if we did notdo that modeling, we would be rocks: the unseeing, unfeeling,
unthinking part of the noumenon. I'd rather be a somewhat (but not always) unhappy, fumbling,
moderately (but not always) dissatisfied consciousness— dasein, if you will — than a rock. But there
are those who disagree, and they're hot after samadhi, satori, or whatever. That's pretty much the
choice, as I see it. Relax, keep fumbling, and don't think you're alone in that, because you aren't.
There's a lot of good art done to work around that sort of thing, and although it never succeeds in
breakingthe barrier — and that's a goodthing, if you think of this in terms of finding out— it does
succeed in presenting it in an interesting variety of perspectives.
Steven Ravett Brown