Saturday, November 26, 2011

Number One

Der wahre Weg geht über ein Seil, das nicht in der Höhe gespannt ist, sondern knapp über dem Boden. Es scheint mehr bestimmt stolpern zu machen, als begangen zu werden.

The true way is along a rope that is not spanned high in the air, but only just above the ground. It seems intended more to cause stumbling than to be walked along. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

The true path is along a rope, not a rope suspended way up in the air, but rather only just over the ground. It seems more like a tripwire than a tightrope. [Hofmann]

Commentary

Interpreting aphorisms is stupid because you can't exhaust their meaning and reducing them to "meanings" destroys them. They are aphorisms because they make meaning by standing apart and intimating a context, and that only to the extent as is necessary for them to be at all intelligible. But refusing to interpret aphorisms is stupid too, because this is to refuse to read them at all. Aphorisms have to be played like pieces of music.

In this case, the point seems to be that there's a way to know whether or not you are on the true path, whatever that is supposed to be or wherever it's supposed to be leading you. If the pathway feels shaky, it's the right one.

Why is the rope low? If it where high, you would have to stay on it, whereas a low rope you can walk away from whenever you like or, more importantly, by an oversight. You can also blunder over the true way by oversight, tripping and falling over it rather than from it. Perhaps the true way is often misperceived as an obstacle? Or do people trip over it because they're looking for it in the wrong place, up high?

2 comments:

Roderick Millar said...

Even though the tightrope is very close to the ground, walking on it will still only be achieved by completely committing to it. If you decide not to try to walk on it because you don't want to have to do that, you may (read "will") trip over it by accident.

Victor said...

The true way of thinking is not distanced from actual experience, but very close to it. In this way, thinking has a tremendous impact over how you experience the world, unlike thinking in abstractions that are divorced from reality.