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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Language as a form]



Dear Annalisa:

We all make mistakes (as Andy heroically, in an exemplary fashion,
reminds us). More, we all tend to have characterizing, yea,
predictable patterns of fallibility. I just noticed, with some horror,
the following paragraph in the posting I just wrote on "dappled".

"You might say that a proper noun like "Andy Blunden" is an exception
that proves the rule--Andy is always Andy, no matter what situation we
put him in, and (???) the longer period of time we take the more general the
generalization "Andy Blunden" becomes. But this is not so, both
externally and internally: externally, speaking of the name in context
as a whole, Andy the supposed Referent of the name changes as he and
we age. Internally, speaking of the structure of the name itself
alone, we notice that "Andy" specifies which Blunden in the Blunden
household we mean."

Obviously, this paragraph reads a lot better if you delete everything
between "and" and "But this is not so". I don't know what I was
thinking. Or rather, I do know what I was thinking; I was thinking of
the next idea that I was going to write before I'd really written out
the idea at hand. That's my most characteristic fault, I'm afraid.

I don't know what yours is, but if I had to guess I would say it was
that you sometimes assume that fairly general, even philosophical,
remarks are directed against your own personal position. But my
original point was not at all personal--I wasn't directing myself
against any supposed claim that you were making (in general, I don't
do much of that, which is why I get into less trouble than Andy and
Martin on the list). What I was really doing was making a comment on
the act of mashing-together-ing, of which we are both quite fond.

The problem is that mashing Korean shamanism and Indic vedism together
too concretely assumes diffusionism. I prefer a thematic approach; it
seems to me that the hypothesis of independent invention (that is,
pyramids were independently invented from some natural model) is a
much more powerful one, because it tells us so much more about what we
really want to know--the way minds work.

I had a world history prof back at the University of Chicago whose
speciality was diffusionism (his name was William H. McNeill and he
specialized in vast tomes with imposing names like "The Rise of the
West", the subtext of which was that world history is a single story
and you and I are the heroes of it). This strikes me as very unlikely,
at least until we discover that early man had some paleolithic
equivalent of the computer and the worldwide web.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies


We all make

On 25 November 2014 at 15:27, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:
> David,
>
> I wanted to address more directly your comments about Babel (which oddly refers to an ancient tower, a building of ancient times) and I'm guessing this has to do with my assertions in a previous post about ancient peoples and the meaning of ancient buildings. Just to be clear: I did not say that Ancient Vedic peoples are the original people. I have no way of asserting that, and I have no intention of doing that. I only mean that Vedic culture is an ancient culture that remains to this day fairly intact. It has undergone changes, and other cultures have influenced it and it has influenced other cultures. Which also means I have no need to discuss this in terms of purity, either.
>
> I don't mean to suggest that there aren't other surviving ancient cultures, I would say Jewish culture is an ancient culture but we came into the conversation with regard to ancient buildings and I was thinking more about ancient buildings and the cultures in which they manifested that are absent to us and how we can't know the purpose of those buildings. We could discuss the ancient buildings of Jewish culture I suppose, but that may become controversial, and I don't want to be controversial, especially because I don't know enough about Ancient Jewish culture and its buildings. There may be others I have not mentioned and I did not mean any slight by not mentioning them. My list was ad hoc, not definitive.
>
> I also never intend to convey that somehow Vedic culture trumps any other culture. Such an assertion would be silly, and furthmore I can't imagine that I could ever think to get away with such a statement in a company of the very intelligent people who frequent this list and who care about understanding culture. There is no one true culture. I only mean that Vedic culture is unusual and singular of today's existing cultures, that it is very old (I believe 7,000 years old) and that it comes to us fairly intact. That was my only point.
>
> I was surprised to see that the wikipage says it is only 4-5000 years old or so, but I understand that this was when texts were written down. There is evidence that the culture existed as an oral culture before it was the Vedas were written to add an additional 2,000 years to that. I'm not sure where the 2,000 number comes from. Regardless, everything about the structure of the Vedas in terms of rhyming structure and how they are chanted show that it was originally oral. It seems reasonable. Even families were named based upon how many Vedas were memorized and that that is how the Vedas were "stored" in the culture.
>
> Furthermore, as far as the "myth" of Babel which claims a single language to be the original language, I don't think that I can accept that myth either. If that is in any way a reference to my past comments about Sanskrit, I would like to make clear, there is no way I can make the claim that Sanskrit was the original language. I don't think I can even say that I believe that. I do remember in a linguistics class as an undergrad I was told Sanskrit was the mother of indo-european languages, because of the similarities in sound forms, grammar, and so on. Forgive me if I'm not using the proper linguistic technical terms. It's been a while.
>
> What I find interesting, and I don't know if this is unique to Sanskrit, but the name does not tie to a geographical place. Sanskrit means, "that which is well made." English is tied to England, Spanish to Spain, German to Germany, etc. I suppose there is Yiddish; it doesn't tie to geography. Hebrew does not either. I guess Latin doesn't either. I just thought that was interesting how the name of the language doesn't tie to a location.
>
> The meaning of the word "Sanskrit" intrigues me also in terms of what has been said on this list about language as a tool and also my recent post about a word as a form. One cannot make anything well-made without it having a form of some kind. A form must be present in order to assign it the quality of being well-made.
>
> I am not well-versed in the language itself, but the contact I have had with Sanskrit has impressed me because of its precision to meaning. So I can attest to this notion of being "well-made." I have been told that learning Sanskrit is good for the mind, but I have no way of explaining why that is or what makes someone say that. There is something delightful about it when the language comes alive, but one could say that about learning any new language. Still, if language helps to shape the mind, perhaps what it means is that something good comes from understanding the language, its structure, its use, and this precision to meaning to which I refer. That there is a clarity it offers. That is just a guess. It certainly is not easy to learn.
>
> Kind regards,
>
> Annalisa
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