“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, December 25, 2014

goodbye as morality

Philosophers have a tendency that we get a handle on the world through quantification – if we can number it, it exists. All, every, each, some, and none ride mankind.  
Adam has a different idea. For each word, each thing, he has a goodbye. He has an essentially valedictory theory of reference: the referent is something you can farewell. You can say goodbye to green lights, blue buses, iceskaters, iceskating, basketball, sky, moon, doggie, pumpkin pants, and everything in between.
I’m not quite sure of the deeper meaning here. There are certain objects, for instance, like the trees near the school, which, even in approaching, require a goodbye: goodbye trees. Green, as in green light, is also only goodbyeable. On the other hand, pumpkin pants only receive the valedictory benediction when they are taken off. They fit properly in the sequence of possession and mourning that pretty much makes up our lives. Hello, on the other hand, is something that comes less spontaneously. We have to encourage Adam to say hello. I have encouraged him to say hiya, as in hiya guys, but this is something that I have to pull out of him too.
This makes the world a bit asymmetrical; however, it must be said, though goodbye is said softly and with feeling, it isn’t really sad. Especially for those objects that are only goodbye-able. Rather, there is something like, dare I say it, respect in the goodbye.

It is true, too, that goodbye is ultimately one of the most respectful things one can say to a tree one is passing. There’s a whole morality in goodbye. If Kant had only written the Critique of Practical Reason when he was two years old, I think it would have been a, a much shorter work, and b., a much more convincing one vis a vis the treatment of objects, which is just another way of saying, the moral way to be in the world. 

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