October 15, 2004

"The Real Meaning..."

After reading a brief, touching anecdote in the Asahi Shimbun on the life and works of Jacques Derrida, written by someone who was in close contact with him, I find myself with a reservoir of backed up reflections preparing to burst like a balloon--whether into nothingness or somethingness I don't know. In my first year in Japan, I read a lot more. I also studied Kanji a lot more. These two acts, which seem to be my only consistent talent--reading and studying (notice the exclusion of writing or revising)--have slowly diminished in hue, texture, measure of importance, and for that I have found life less worth it. It seems to me that men and women have an innate curiosity for or attration to balance. Some call this a need. But what is the instrument with which we measure? Does the instrument work in the way that we expect it to? Philosophers and thinkers of all backgrounds and foregrounds tend to recollect their most profound moments of penetrating the illusion of a functional or temporary balance in the world--the illusion that our need for resolution will be settled in a few steps, a few weeks, or this lifetime for that matter--in works that tinker with the weights ever so meticulously, if noticed at all. Even for Derrida himself (and his works--the two to be equated more and more in years to come), who seems to be able to look outside the balance and see a never ending process of see-sawing up and down on the fulcrum of truth (or difference), he seems in the end to be making an adjustment so subtle that it seems to reject the tool, that is, the tradition of blind faith in instruments that we have made.

But one must go back, keep going back. Nagarjuna--a distant predecessor of Derrida in both time and space--gave an example of infinitely regressing scales to (what is the word I use here if not 'prove'?) the inconclusivity of proof. If you have a measurement that you claim is correct, you must measure the scale to see if it is a correct scale, and so on ad infinitum. And where is newness? In spontaneity? Yes. Where is certainty but in uncertainty, or knowledge of that which you do not know? Is it the hope in something else beyond what you have felt as right, the differences from you that make you aware of yourself as a living proof of something new?

In recent years, a paradox has been something to be avoided. In life, in writing, in culture, etc. But instead of paradoxes disappearing in reaction to modern cultures' aversion to uncertainty or complexity, the levels of paradoxes have become more furtive, transparent, and even enjoyable in the most superficial sense. That means they lead us to a grave fear and doubt--thus the finality not being a paradox but a thing which makes sense. A paradox that gives us certainty is perhaps what we could at some point in our lives call a true paradox.

Is this too long of an entry in this blog? No comments thus far. Maybe that's not a good thing.




Blogger pik said...

I came here with the specific intention of leaving a comment but I find myself baffled by this entry. Whether this is an indication of my inability to cope with anything more intellectual than an airport bestseller or indeed, a meter of the intensely personal (and therefore, indecipherable) nature of this latest entry I cannot say. I have however commented, albeit in a circumspect and perhaps insufficient manner - but a comment none the less is what this paragraph represents. In this I have acheived my aim.
Please continue to share your thoughts with us.

1:47 AM  

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