Don't Even Bother Asking About The Microwave

By max, Fri 11 November 2011, in category Blog

"No - your refrigerator is too low-fidelity to be counted as a phonograph: it cannot reproduce sounds at all." (Hofstadter 406). This retort in Goedel Escher Bach from Achilles to the Tortoise represents the crux of the argument between Zen and the Pragmatist. While Achilles reacts sensibly to the inaudability of the cold plastic disk, isn't the Tortoise in competition for Zen practitioner of the year?

In my most recent involvement with self-appointed subculture, the Zorba Festival, the nerve centre of all Negev Desert chill-outs, I lost a similar battle but wouldn't know it until too late. The tent was in fact patchwork canvas over a geodesic dome, the time late, and the attendees personified bric-a-brac. After a half hour wispy and softly spoken crash course on Koans we were instructed to sit in partnered lines and ask the Koan-du-jour to each other. The style is must be explained is that for one hour in alternating 10 minute segments the answerer will ponder the Koan to their counterpart whose only job is to listen and stare into the orator's eyes. Skeptical, but still curious, and being in the initial position I spoke to the Koan "Who is in?" I started a dialectical journey on the distinction of in/out, and what or who was even qualified to be split into these categories. When the clava rang-out the indication to switch roles, I could not have prepared myself for what was to come. Following her silent and tranquil cross-legged listening of  my philosophy this Woman erupted with a voice-wrenching tirade scapegoating me for her eating-disorder. "Will you love me if I have half-and-half  in my Coffee?! Will you love me if I have linguine with the sour-cream?! The 30% sour-cream?! Will you LOVE me THEN?!" The outburst flourished into an inspection of all the personal details surrounding this difficulty, and posited that I may not love her if she didn't jog at the gym daily or indulged in various confections. Round two commenced, and wiping some spittle that was projected onto my cheeks from her raging mouth, I continued my calm discourse on what "in" meant for society or for one's personal life. On her second round of answering she leaned into my tensely unblinking eyes and shouted about the saga of her hips loud enough that the Zen master came to restrain the obviously very disgruntled, and probably very hungry woman.

It may seem that I followed the Zen path more closely in this encounter, but that I see now is the view of the Zen amateur. This woman was using her refrigerator as a record player (she would have mentioned that would be ample room). "Will you love me then?!" was really was an inquiry like, "Do you hear this record in this fridge?" I thought I had to ignore her to make my point clear that fridges don't play records. But that only meant I never got to understand the sound of a fugue on a Frigidaire.