A short programming note for coming philosophers: when reading a text, listening to a lecture, or engaging a friend in conversation, instead of asking “what’s the point?”, sense out “what’s the wave?”
If one searches for positions, one will only ever get positions–data points on your radar screen, itself informed by other known positions, opinions, concerns, rumors and tidbits, ready to inform new navigation schedules and trajectories through the rough seas of discourse and its institutions, where all the buoys float melancholically and the beacons are overcharged with meanings too intimidating to deal with without being blinded by the anxiety of too much work–too many coasts to reach and record, too many entries in the logbook, too many worlds and too much boredom.
Detecting the wave–being floated by it, engine and deck lights off, hardly even a hum of consciousness in thinking–requires immersion, a sloshing and splashing without purpose in waters over which one hasn’t even the illusion of control. You never let yourself know how it will lap up on your cheek, where it will transport you or pull you under, how it will provoke you in deeper or else back to the shore where you can dry off and just listen.
No one was ever ‘taken’ by a position. Sure, they can be convincing, they can be effective in arguments, they can even win you prizes and recognition–positions–but underneath them something more persuasive is always in flux, and it’s this that seduces us to swim, perhaps even to drown in the water we’ve tasted.
No one ever fell in love because someone made a good point. It happens when another ‘pointless’ existence swells at its own threshold and bowls us over. It’s their style, the ease of their manner that commands our attention, because we know they don’t know it, we know they’re not putting on a show for us. It’s them–who they are underneath their and our consciousnesses, however astute and clever and sincere and awesome they are–it’s them as wave, as ripple, swell, and wake, that we adore and want to wash over us in all its humble, silent splendor. And it’s only ourselves as wave that we can bring to theirs. Together we can only make waves.
I believe it would do us some good to remember this whenever we engage with philosophy, and in human intercourse in general. What matters is not that we each take up our places like a fleet of battle cruisers jockeying for strategic advantage, lobbing cannon balls and submarine missiles at each other, a struggle that can at best end in an accidental collision or the raising of a thousand white flags. What matters is the flux and interference, the submergence and the nearness–the amplitude of the wave we create together and the influence it will have on other waves.