Monday, March 5, 2012

Lucid clarity

In a recent IPS post in the OOO thread Dial criticized Bryant for lacking a certain connection to what is beyond language. So much so that Bryant's lucidly clear thinking and writing style might even be an impediment thereto. I begged to differ per this post, copied below.

For me Bryant answers your charges nicely in this post about his garden.

“I have to surrender myself....I don’t have mastery over any of this, but can only collaborate with all of these entities and negotiate, opening myself to surprise and the tendencies of these agents.”

Sure we don't see this “practice” in his philosophical writing, but that's because he's doing philosophy. And in practicing philosophy I see him, per Loy/Dogen, as “liberating thought” through his lucid clarity.* Clarity, I might add, that I find lacking is most philosophers lost in jargon and specialization. And this lucidity I find akin to the calm, clear, placid lake that is often associated with meditative equanimity. Language can take us there too, per Loy, and Bryant's rhetoric does that for me. As does Derrida (on occasion) and Caputo (often).

Granted Bryant most certainly holds onto and defends his philosophical “position,” so this might be interpreted as being attached to “a particular thought system,” as Loy puts it. But for that matter so is Loy, Dogen and their Buddhism, for they defend a particular system of interpretation of what it means to be liberated. It seems that with any particular system of thought or philosophy one can find such liberation. The problem arises only when we attach so much to it that we fail to see that liberation can be had via other systems of philosophy. And that the liberation so had will not be of the exact same kind, if we accept polydoxy's claim to a spiritually plural referent (see Balder's paper “Kingdom Come”). Loy and Buddhism are not immune from that attachment, or belief in a universal liberation that is the same for all.

The above inspired a recollection of the old TV show that influenced me considerably in my youth, American Bandstand. One of the most popular teen refrains in evaluating a song was something like this: "I like the beat, it's easy to dance to." To this day the most important thing in a song for me is how it moves me, in dance and/or feeling tone. The words for the most part are irrelevant. In fact, I often don't know most of the words. And in some cases I can detest the words and/or the worldview behind them. It's in the rhythm and flow of the music, for me. So I find a similarity in Bryant's pellucid flow, the written performance, whether I agree or not with the content. It is artwork. In teen parlance, I like the beat and it's easy to dance to.

* Of course my academic training in lucid writing predisposes me toward affinity with this means of liberation. Attaining such written clarity is one of my own never-ending practices. And I dare say that I'm pretty good at it, enough so to appreciate a master like Bryant at work.

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