The possibilities of dialogue with a belief puddle

Filed under:Rants — posted by Schizostroller on November 27, 2016 @ 2:24 pm

It was Oscar Wilde who said he is tolerant of everything apart from intolerance.

And then there are people who have a self-perception of a form of liberalism, but one that has failed to do a Copernican Revolution of self-understanding in that they claim to be open-minded but in fact the phrase that describes their self-understanding should be closer to:

“They are fine with all kinds of belief as long as it is their own”

I have a real problem with people like this especially in the realm of language. Say with the word ‘belief’ there is a set of all the possible meanings, ie for this signifier the set contains all possible signified (of course the signifier could also be a phrase such as ‘human nature’ or ‘adult’ or ‘grown-up’). A person like the above has a closed set within this larger set that is quite fixed and unable to perceive the possibility of existence of forms of meaning and knowledge outside this more fixed set. If i am aware of not only the existence of larger permutations of the word, but also for me my understanding of ‘belief’ with regards my own behaviour exists outside theirs AND moreover whilst I am aware of their use of ‘belief’ I am highly aware it does not pertain to my own self-understanding,then whilst I am have a conversation with this person using other words I am highly conscious that I cannot use the word ‘belief’ myself (it does not apply the other way around as I understand theirs) as it will immediately lead to misunderstanding.

If then this closed set of the word ‘belief’ of this other includes, as in the saying above, a strong unchallengeable faith, can I never retain my argument on ‘belief’ with this person if I accidentally use it, albeit as I understand it, because the person will be convinced, due to their ‘belief’, that I have used it in the way they use it, not my own. And furthermore due to the type of use of ‘belief’ they understand they will be even less likely to see my perspective than before I used the word.

In fact any conversation with such people will take a form of aphasic behaviour where I would have to constantly skirt the use of the word otherwise all possibility of recognition is lost.

If this other use of ‘belief’ includes a CS Lewis type of tyranny of conscience, due to the necessary intensity of unmet needs that stem from this impossibility of recognition, even as applied to their own sense of selves (how can such a closed linguistic set ever speak for the greater non-linguistic whole of their being?) even whilst this faith thinks it has a truth-claim to salvation, almost an ideological Bernean Schlemiel, then does it pose a threat to the existence of all other meaning and knowledge and identity? A total eclipse of the self. I am thinking of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia here.

I also find myself thinking in this case of the Star Trek Next Generation episode 23 ‘Skin of Evil’ with the narcissistically childish but omnipowerful black pool of goo rather than Tarkovsky’s use of a type of Last Universal Common Ancestor sea in Solaris, a Douglas Adams puddle thinking version of such a larger sea of potential being.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace