In a message dated 5/28/03 12:23:28 AM, Mike Grondin writes:
<<If, however, they were merely writing down a lot of stuff that they
themselves didn't understand very well, that's a different story.>>
This is a fascinating statement and that is a fascinating story, I bet.
I often find your casual generalizations to be most provocative.
Let's assume for a moment that though you may not have meant it, that this is
the accurate take.
(Common sense sometimes says it must be so.)
Let's assume the speaker knew all too well that those to whom he spoke would
not "get it" at least not entirely (tabling the question - can one "partially"
But in such a case consider the rhetorical strategy of such a speaker
(whoever we take him to be). Assume that the speaker might have been, as reported
often at least in the canonicals, rather inclined to render for one group words
freighted with koan-like subtext, potential for enduring tortured nuance --
rhetorically elliptical and endlessly elusive and yet perfectly resonant for the
initiate -- well, fine, well done -- while at other times (& sometimes at the
same time!) going to equivalent pains to speak in memorably plain,
hallmark-simple conceptually facile even overly simplistic, purposefully parabolic ways?
Not that a rhetorical matrix of such astounding simplciity on the one hand and
such infinite subtle reach on the other is any less than we might expect, yet
if, as you say, these initiates were "merely" scribbling down "stuff" they
didn't have much of a clue about, it stands to reason that the speaker would
have had some ulterior, supervening motive as his rhetorical purpose, over and
above befuddling them, as common sense suggests he did? I find the explanation
that he was purposefully obscuring meaning from the non-initiates because
they were nt ready to be a bit of a stretch when we are talking about a
compendium of sayings of this magnitude.
Perhaps the answer lies, as has been suggested, somewhere within the
mystical, inarticulable folds of group consciousness and that therefore the sayings
were never meant to be exported, or even transcribed, for that matter. But some
of them still sound flat out dumb, nonetheless!
It is hard to imagine a rhetorical genius risking such a legacy of
incoherence or resigning himself to it even, or even to be unaware of the probable
outcomes and consequences of the sayings' preservations in mis-transcribed, written
I find the canonicals suspect for the same reasons, though perhaps less so,
in spite of their obviously doctored states.
Something about the tone, and the rhetorical vacuousness implicit in the
As you say "if, however, they were merely writing down a lot of stuff that
themselves didn't understand very well, that's a different story" --
well why didn't they?
and why were they writing it down, if incorrectly?
I apologize for the hopelessly generalized form of this inquiry.
What I am suggesting simply though is that the likelihood seems remote given
the substantive context that the original speaker's words would have
themselves been characterized by such rhetorical lassitude, a sort of purposefully
willed inattentiveness towards the record, knowing as the speaker must have that
those who followed would be writing things down. It just seems insoluble,
rhetorically, such a legacy of dissolution there in the desert, leaving behind a
sort of sentient purposelessness -- and implicitly on purpose!
Not to get too carried away, but as a generalist reader all I can come away
with from these fragments is that a whole lot of abstruse doctoring --
scrivener malpractice -- was going on! Not to question the value or intrinsic
legitimacy of GOT scholarship!
I just suspect the speaker would have known his hearers would try to write
"his stuff" down and that they would get it wrong -- and they did.
But it strikes me as a very intriguing "story" indeed.
And so I often find your casual generalizations to be most provocative.
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