World’s center: foothold on ground truth — Işık Barış Fidaner

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Footprints of children and youth who have walked on America 22 thousand years ago

People asked Nasreddin Hoca:
— Sir tell us where is the world’s center?
— It’s exactly here!
He was pointing to where his donkey’s forefoot is.
— But sir how is that possible?
— Measure if you don’t believe it!

Every knowledge is a platform raised from the ground, because it holds on to ideals; when you question its basis, it falls to the ground [1]. So we call that ground where knowledge falls, the truth (one’s truth is one’s turf). Knowledge is a defense against the truth. Truth is an inaccessible center surrounded by knowledge, it’s the field of sublimation. That ground is where we get a foothold, that ground is the world’s center [2].

What reminds of this joke is what Lacan said to Chomsky when he visited America. Elizabeth Roudinesco tells the story:

Later Lacan scandalised everyone during a lecture at the Massachusetts Instititute of Technology by the way he answered a question about thought put to him by Noam Chomsky.

— We think we think with our brains. But personally I think with my feet. That’s the only way I really come into contact with anything solid. I do occasionally think with my forehead, when I bang into something. But I’ve seen enough electroencephalograms to know there’s not the slightest trace of a thought in the brain.

When he heard this, Chomsky concluded that the lecturer must be a madman.

Thinking is like walking in language: We set foot by every metaphor and swing the other foot by every metonymy [3]. By thinking I approach “your” (my interlocutor’s) dream. “You”, who is here to hear, may refer to God, society, father, lover, mother or any other entity.

Naturally, as you walk towards your mother’s dream, her dream walks back at you. With your every step, she will step you right back. As you open her horizon, she opens the horizon back at you. We find this connection in a hadith:

Heaven under-lies your mother’s feet.

Heaven is not a place in the next world for one’s enjoyment and satisfaction; instead, it’s a common horizon in this world that keeps our desire from congesting (pangs of remorse) [4]. The wider this horizon, the longer you can leap without losing its sight. Now let’s listen to another version of the same joke from a Jungian feminist:

An old witch from Ranchos told me that La Que Sabe (the knower) knew everything about women, that La Que Sabe had created women from a wrinkle on the sole of her divine foot: This is why women are knowing creatures; they are made, in essence, of the skin of the sole, which feels everything. This idea that the skin of the foot is sentient had the ring of a truth, for an acculturated Kiché tribeswoman once told me that she’d worn her first pair of shoes when she was twenty years old and was still not used to walking con los ojos vendados, with blindfolds on her feet. (Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves)

Yet we could do without consulting this ancient wisdom. In English, you say “walk a mile in his/her shoes” and “I wouldn’t want to be in his/her shoes” to refer to one’s empathy for someone, putting oneself in someone’s place. Now, you see, that ground on which intuition and thought walks is the world’s center. Measure if you don’t believe it. Use your brain, it’s free!

(Turkish)

Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner

Notes:

[1] Slavoj Žižek: “One of Hegel’s famous word plays: the ambiguity of the German expression zugrundegehen, which means to disintegrate, fall apart, bnt literally also zu Grunde gehen, to reach one’s ground.” (Less Than Nothing) In order to reach the true ground of something, one must raze it to the ground because “There is no meta-language.”

[2] See Lacan’s seminar 13 about “defense against truth” and 17 about “instinctual knowledge”: “The effect of truth is only a collapse of knowledge.” (Lacan)

[3] See “Sütur-Südur ve Yürümenin Evreleri”

[4] See “Greeting Oneself: Conscience Is Not Superego But Law of Desire”, “Nedir Mahmut bey?”

Thanks to Tülin Erinç for the exchange of ideas.

Image source.

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