4.15.2010

Good, yes.

"It will happen for a time, that the pupil will feel a real debt to the teacher,--will find his intellectual power has grown by the study of his writings. This will continue until he has exhausted his master's mind. But in all unbalanced minds, the classification is idolized, passes for the end, and not for a speedily exhaustible means, so that the walls of the system blend to their eye in the remote horizon with the walls of the universe."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
And, to put it in a way that allows me to escape Emerson's classification, I should translate a bit: Stop using the words you learned in graduate school. But keep in mind, this system is unchanging. Buddha's Diamond Sutra anticipated Emerson by more than two millenia:
My teaching of the Good Law is to be likened unto a raft. [Does a man who has safely crossed a flood upon a raft continue his journey carrying that raft upon his head?] The Buddha-teaching must be relinquished.
So, just... relinquish! The teaching itself is eternal. The language is passing.

8 comments:

pure_sophist_monster said...

Isn't there a certain irony that you use two block quotes to argue against using words learned in graduate school? Could it be there is a certain value within the language itself that requires the use/repetition of that language?

And isn't this a line of argument that suggests you should be talking like Santos and Rivers do? (As the words here in your post are very much words I recall from your graduate years.)

Casey said...

Yes. Maybe. And... uh oh.

Casey said...

No really: I love your second question there:

"Could it be there is a certain value within the language itself that requires the use/repetition of that language?"

That fascinates me. Is there an implicit value to words themselves? "In the beginning was the word?" Can we imagine a future vision: rows of ascetics (i.e., what we now call grad. students) rocking backward and foreward chanting, together, in a monotone, "Dasein, Dasein, Dasein-Other, Dasein, Dasein, Dasein-and-Aporia; Dasein, Dasein, Dasein-Agonism..." and so on? Holy crap. :)

Casey said...

Oh, and... (I'm still reeling):

Do you think we return to our graduate-school words because we know that others privilege them? It's a matter of ethos, right?

I mean, if Casey comes up to you and says, "Hey man, stop talking all lingo-ey like that," you're liable to say, "Who the hell is Casey to tell me how to talk?"

So if i think it's more likely that you'll listen to Buddha and Emerson's teaching than my teaching, I'll use their words (?).

But is this what everyone's doing? Honestly? That's weird to me. Because I keep hearing people tell me what Levinas and Derrida think, but I've never liked what they say. So why are these people insisting on saying those names to me? Are they just wrongfully assuming that I'll respond to Derrida better than I would to them? Because if so, these people are poor judges of my personality, my character, and my judgment.

On the other hand: nobody's ever told me that they're sick of hearing what Emerson and Buddha think. :) But... are you?!?!

This is fun. :)

pure_sophist_monster said...

I never tire of Emerson and don't hear nearly enough Buddha.

What I would say is that your critique should be less categorical. That is, be honest about your specific discomforts. Rather than an injunction against all the words of graduate school, say "Wrangler, I do not much care for Levinas."

And I think there is a value in the particulars of language. And, I think, Emerson does as well: God is in our expression and all that.

Casey said...

If you're still reading, Sophist_Monster:

What did you mean by that last statement: God is in our expression and all that. (?)

pure_sophist_monster said...

I believe Emerson argued that God was in our expression.

Casey said...

I don't recognize the phrase, but even if I did... (as is common with Emerson)... I'm not sure I understand. Do you think that means "G-d" is essentially speakable? Or that what we speak somehow defines G-d? G-d is rhetorical? Etc.?

Don't look too hard, but if you find the source, leave me a note...