Knowledge is key.
The more you know the better off you should be.
Dare I even say: I think, therefore I am?
Such expressions touch on the nature of the game of human comprehension. This comprehension is essentially twofold and it correlates between understanding yourself and the world around you. The latter can be divided between your narrower and broader environment, which can (respectively) mean your family and the society you are in, or the society in general and the nature as the backdrop of your existence. We get a nice theoretical definition of the microcosmos of the self, the potential mesocosmos of the society you are brought up in and the macrocosmos of the nature/the universe that essentially gives rise to the multitudes of individuums you yourself are part of as well.
The beauty of this distinction lies in its “verification” through both scientific and metaphysical means. I won’t go too much into obvious stuff, but I have to relate this to the dualism of life. Not necessarily the often overplayed mind-body dichotomy, but more the interconnection of seemingly opposing parts. In such a way, the Hindu cycle of life corresponds to the divine breath giving life through exhaling, while your life/Atman returns to the eternal Brahman through its inevitable expiration. This essential wholeness relates to the Daoist dualism, where the central Dao is literally (and yet anything but literal) the way of being that encapsulates both nature and nurture. The symbolism of yang/yin is about as perfect a symbol as we can find in any religious/philosophical thought: [. The small patches of opposing larges black-and-white parts reflects the flowing nature of being, where a seemingly dominant notion retains a dormant opposing view, so you can’t have one without the other. In more common terms, we can say that good doesn’t exist without evil or life without death. Understanding one means comprehending the other. Knowing yourself can thus help in realizing your environment … and vice versa.
Another distinction relevant to my research and understanding in general is through the methodological paradigms that follow a similar tripart structure in text analysis. Since interpretation of art in general is quite often directly linked to the interpretation and understanding of the world, it’s wise to be aware of its parts. Text analysis is broadly understood within the frames of authorship, the work itself and its consequent reception. Arguably, the trend has been more in favor of the third and more recent part, but while there are more broad and holistic approaches to this tripart structure, the general distinction of the three elements of inquiry still persists. Apart from the freaks like me who get a hard-on for deep textual probing, most people don’t really explore the first methodological paradigm, because the immersion into a good book is for example quite enough, with or without the following personal breakdowns. However, authorship is crucial, if you want to get a peek behind-the-scenes of what you’re reading … and often even more than that. This is heavily dependent on the genre and even the medium in question, not to mention one’s reason for this inquiry. If you have a more rigorous and analytic approach in let’s say writing a scholarly article on a given work, understanding the environment in which the work was created results in a more plausible and concise game of intellectual ping-pong between what is written, what the author meant, what you actually understood and what essentially gets stamped into the mainstream (leviathan) regardless of what is “right” or “wrong”. In cases when the author sticks to a specific genre and style of writing, drawing, composing, etc., the author’s broader canon and personal leitmotifs come into play as well.
The interplay of what is meant in a given work and what is understood is an interesting phenomenon that can pose problems the older the work is and the less we know about its authorship. Essentially, we can get those high school type ordeals when the teacher is vigorously stating the symbolic meaning(s) of a given element in a poem, when the cynical teenager is sufficient with the “cigar is just a cigar” type of answer. Now, the somewhat dubious nature of artistry in general means that once you let your work into the public domain, it becomes a vessel for appreciation … but scrutiny as well … with the stress often more on the latter. The meaning of a “good” work can survive the test of time not just through its contemporary richness, but by standing the test of time. Commercial success is not necessarily the norm for quality just as much as author’s notoriety is hardly the measure for all future exquisiteness s/he might produce.
Iconic characters and timeless classics are hard to come by … they have to essentially expand beyond cultures and capture that exact pulse of society and the times. While you can be as meticulous as you want and for the most part can’t just wing it (like I’m doing here ironically) to get good results, the game of marketing and being in the right place at the right time become prerequisites for success as well. In either case, it all harkens back to the basic idea of understanding what you’re good at (so you can stress the positives and hide the negatives) and what kind of audience you’re aiming at. The interplay of the micro and the macro thus continues in more ways than one.
I’ll end this here, because I’ll talk about the duality between the personal and the social in the forthcoming posts about mythology. Not sure where I wanted to go with this one, because I have a review in the works, but I had to get hack on the writing horse after some prolonged nasty illness … just so the hamster doesn’t forget how to run on the wheel.
You can call it the wheel of life or the entrapment of cyclical nonsense, but the duad of knowing and learning will stay between what is here and what is there, what is present and what is absent … and what is written and what is read. Splendid learning curve either way.
For reasons of extreme prejudice, the author of this blog wishes to remain anonymous …