Posted by: Dan | August 11, 2013

Thoughts I had while waiting for a bus that never came

First Thought:

“Is there a triangle in this sentence?”

Second Thought:

What is this?

Image

Third Thought:

What is this?

Image

Commentary

I encourage you all to come up with your own answers before reading what follows.

First Thought:

It seems to me that whether or not a triangle is contained in the sentence quoted, depends upon what  a triangle is and if  a triangle is and what the relation is between this supposed triangle and the name given to it (i.e. “triangle”).  If a triangle is something that exists outside of language and apart from the name we give to it (does anything exist outside of language?  How can we talk about it then?  And if we can’t talk about it, how can we know it?), then one could argue that there is no triangle contained within the sentence.  But is a triangle divorced from the name “triangle” still a triangle?  If it is not then the name “triangle” itself contains or is a triangle, in which case there is a triangle in the sentence.

Second thought:

I came up with the following although I’m sure answer could be multiplied endlessly:

  1. A tetrahedron;
  2. Four triangles;
  3. A quadrilateral divided into four uneven parts;
  4. A quadrilateral divided in half;
  5. A symbol;
  6. A shape;
  7. A thing;
  8. The representation of something else;
  9. No( )thing;
  10. An empty signifier;
  11. Modern art;
  12. Not a pipe.

Third Thought:

  1. Me;
  2. A picture of me;
  3. A simulacrum;
  4. A series of tiny coloured dots displayed on a computer monitor;
  5. A singularity;
  6. One in a series;
  7. A multitude;
  8. The same thing as that explored in the Second Thought above;
  9. Something different than that explored in the Second Thought above;
  10. A stunningly attractive and intelligent young man;
  11. All of the above;
  12. None of the above.

And you all?  What answers did you give to these questions?

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Responses

  1. First, this would be a fine exercise for an *Introduction to Postmodernism* class DanO/M (and why aren’t you teaching at some university by now?). Second, is this going to be on the final exam?

    I am writing a little essay for an art show at the Seattle Graduate School of Theology next week. I am beginning with this quote from JD’s introduction to Husserl’s “The Origin of Geometry,” in 1962. JD wrote: “…It is a question of explicitly and systematically posing the problem of the status of a discourse which borrows from a heritage the resources necessary for the de-construction of that heritage itself.” I’m sure you see the ramifications of the problem JD identifies not just for deconstructing discourses but for all sorts of confrontations and actions towards change/revolution/conversion. No matter how profoundly one (thinks one) is challenging or problematizing linguistic regimes one is still stuck with the same old AK 47’s and Molotov cocktails, so to speak (morphologically and semiotically). Or is one? hmmm…? But really, what are you really trying to do with these questions? And don’t you have a book on Paul to finish up, and when is that novel getting published?

    Much Obliged

    Oh, some poet, I have forgotten who, wrote:

    Suppose



    Suppose
    
suffering is transformation -
    


    Suppose

    transformation is mystery -



    Suppose
    
mystery is love -



    Suppose –
    
love is silent –

    Now what was your question? Try asking it again with different words. Better yet, try asking it again without any words! (too bad were not Buddhists, they are a lot better at this sort of thing).

  2. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your comment. As always, I really appreciate it. I actually do find myself drawn to some of the buddhist traditions these days and even have been rethinking some of the zen stuff that used to strike me as so absurd back in the day when I still didn’t know that I didn’t know anything.

    Trying to ask questions without words… that’s kind of what I AM trying to do. But, yes, I think you’re right — it may well be impossible to use words to ask questions without words.

    So, what am I trying to do with these questions? I’m not sure about your phrasing of that question… I guess I’m trying to have fun (and succeeding… this was fun for me to think about!). If language is a game, can we have fun playing it?

    I guess I’m also trying to think about what is outside of language (if there is a hors-texte… beggin’ the pardon of Mr. JD… not to be confused with Jack Daniels… although maybe the two may find each other mutually enlightening).

    I find it fun to think about these things because it feeds a sense of wonder that has been latent in me for years but is coming back to life again recently. What IS all of this? My God, what IS this? Not asked with a sense of terror, you know, but a sense of childlike excitement, if I dare apply the term “childlike” to myself.

    As for the novel, it’s not getting published til I hear your feedback, that’s for sure!


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