Saturday, March 10, 2012

Number Seventy-Three

Er frißt den Abfall vom eigenen Tisch; dadurch wird er zwar ein Weilchen lang satter als alle, verlernt aber, oben vom Tisch zu essen; dadurch hört dann aber auch der Abfall auf.

He gobbles up the leavings and crumbs that fall from his own table; in this way he is, of course, for a little while more thoroughly sated than all the rest, but he forgets how to eat from the table itself. In this way, however, there cease to be any crumbs and leavings. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

He scavenges the leftovers from his own table; that makes him better fed than the others for a little while, but he also forgets how to eat at table; and so the supply of leftovers dries up. [Hofmann]


This one is more mysterious to me. The problem is not that he creates waste, or even that he eats it, but that he forgets the source of the waste, and so loses the waste as well. Could this be a warning about becoming too preoccupied with reflections or commentary, so as to lose sight of experience? Then, having no experiences of any heft to speak of, like the stereotypical bookish student who has replaced life with reading, there is nothing left to comment on. I could also imagine this referring to someone who has become so vigilantly self-aware and self-questioning that he becomes paralyzed. The overall pattern seems to be one in which the secondary and dependent activity is mistaken for an end in itself. There is also the idea here of one who goes from creating and consuming to doing nothing but consuming.

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