Words are Where We Live
December 16, 2008
[A word cloud of the poem Days by Philip Larkin, by Wordle]
[Earlier. On Carnaby Street.]
A Hare Krishna dude in relevant regalia puts his arm round my shoulder and begins to walk with me.
HK: You are a nice man.
ME: Uh - thanks?
HK: You have hair like Einstein.
ME: Uh - again - thanks - I always thought it was more Pinker/Gladwell but Einstein is cool...
HK: It is Christmas and I am Hare Krishna and I have this book that will help you, if you would like to make a donation...
ME: Do you guys do Christmas?
HK: It contains the transcendence of Krishna.
ME: Isn't Krishna a Hindu deity? And aren't all Hindu deities part of the same Brahman godhead? Shouldn't you be a Hare Brahman?
HK: Hinduism is a later corruption - Hare Krishna is much older.
ME: Does being older make it right? Haven't we learnt a lot of useful stuff recently?
HK: Have you read the Bhagavad Gita?
ME: Well, yes - at least bits of it in translation - I don't speak Sanskrit..but that said isn't the whole issue of translation quite problematic with ancient scripture and revealed truth and that? I mean linguistically alone, without even getting on to ontological translation or cultural context...
HK: I love Krishna - Krishna is GOD - he tells us to love him.
ME: Wait, hang on, that's heavy - GOD is a MALE person called Krishna? Doesn't that seem weird to you? Why not a girl? Or a teapot orbiting earth?
HK: I feel him, he has revealed himself to me as Krishna.
ME: That doesn't help much dude. What is GOD?
[And - also - using an endogenous sensation as proof of an exogenous abstraction, without any recourse to correlative, let alone objective correlative, whatever that might mean, is logically on very shaky ground - see the brain in the vat argument.]
HK: These are just words - you will make your self unhappy thinking this way - God is Love.
ME: I know they are just words but that's what we've got - but if GOD = LOVE, LOVE = GOD, then how can you love God, or God love you? That's like saying you LOVE LOVE, or GOD GOD. It's semantic tautology...it's circular!
HK: Words, word, words
[Whether a conscious or unconscious Hamlet quote I don't know.]
If you don't stop thinking like this you will be driven to suicide. God is Love. God is beyond words. You can only experience love.
ME: So - if God is beyond words, what's printed on the pages of this book you are trying to sell me?
[Hare Krishna gets angry with me and literally storms off. I try to shake his hand but he refuses. I wonder what happened to the love for a bit and then go for a pint.]