Showing posts from November, 2021

Mystics and Hubristics

  Continuing from: the Stupidest Idea Certain people believe (or purport to believe) that all thought is in language, that being itself is in language, that "language is the house of being," that nothing escapes language, that "there is nothing outside the text," that, in principle at least, everything is expressible, or at least that everything that is important is expressible and that if anything else remains, we may discard it as irrelevant.  We can call these people "Hubristics." Then, certain other people make language into a kind of villain, and believe not only that the most important truths are ultimately inexpressible, but that one shouldn't try - that attempting to express the inexpressible can only have a corrupting influence, that all representation is corruption, that we should "embrace the silence," that only a pure, unmediated experience is genuinely authentic.  Some go so far as to take a vow of silence.  We can call these pe

Be Pretentious!

  To pretend is, etymologically, to put one's effort toward something - the Latin tendere is also where we get "tense," "tension," but also "tender."  For most of the history of the English language, a pretender referred exclusively to a person who laid claim to something, usually a noble or royal title - a "pretender to the throne."  Whether or not this claim was true was irrelevant.  A person who really was the heir of the British Monarchy was just as much a "pretender to the throne" as a person who falsely thus claimed.  But later (presumably because the winners write the history books) pretense acquired the connotation of a false, or imaginary, claim of nobility, and finally came to mean imagination itself - the realm of dreams, of hope, of yearning.    Thus a person who shames you for being pretentious is telling you to know your place .  They're telling you not to try to give any creative meaning to your own experience,