The Problem of Books: Linear Thought

In many ways, the idea that any matter can not be explained but only experienced is quite right.  Zen masters speak of giving an ideal lecture on the nature of Zen by simply walking into the room, ringing a gong, and then walking out. For in that sound and whole experience is all that is needed to fully comprehend everything.  Yet, we can not.

We are bound to words.  We are bound to words and words are bound to sensible sentences…and those sentences are bound to lines.  Lines do not in any way describe what actually exists they only serve to crudely translate to our limited minds what we have only begun to understand, and then those translations are interpreted as symbols.  Before continuing, please refer to this video I have edited specifically for this blog entry.  It is an excerpt from “Alan Watts: A Conversation with Myself” The initial spark for this entry most certainly were these considerations:

What must be expressed and considered is that language as we know it to be is too primitive and, as we evolve further and further, must too evolve and be improved upon.  To spend volumes and volumes and hours upon hours to disseminate information and express feeling and emotion is surely a waste of our time.  What we should be doing, instead, is expounding further on the knowledge that information gives us, reveling in the feeling that a great novel can give us, in a more efficient and natural way.

This is not to say that I don’t love a good book.  Of course! Who is not stirred by a great epic, a moving history, or an insightful essay on philosophy?  What is being suggested here is that we develop a way to feel and empathize with the literature and mathematics–things that help us grow deeper in thought and emotion–without the tediousness of reading it.  Many will say, “But the journey is worth the effort, and the effort worth the journey!”  Very well, but think of the feeling you get once you finished the most heartwarming tale; now, would you not want everyone to feel that?  It should be so.

Why must we all put ourselves through the task of slowly reading meaningless words (for most words are meaningless) only to arrive at a scene which is only just as poignant as our most heartwarming personal experience?  When you read a sentence, this sentence for example, can you tell me which one word is the most important?  Which was the least?  You may suggest that the least important words were “a, sentence, for, example, can, me, one, is” and “the”.  For, without them one could extrapolate the general meaning: “When you read sentence, this, you tell which word more important?”  You see now? Even a child would have a perfectly fine time of understanding that concoction. Is grammar a meaningless flourish? An artful artifact?

To conclude this argument, I propose we strive to consider something more efficient than the system we have now.  The information we have at this very moment in the world is far too great to disseminate piecemeal, bit by bit, word by word.  Books, audio files, etc. must be made more readily absorbable into the human intellect!  It is imperative that we find a solution to our massive over-information problem and get that information to the mind and its capacities sooner.  How many more Einsteins would we have had if it not for the many volumes written on Physics?  How many more Platos would exist if not for so many texts on philosophy?  It is, indeed, a problem of our linear system.

Please comment.

Thank You.


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