Thursday, May 22, 2014

What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?

Sometimes, riddle are mere linguistic absurdities, demonstrated by the following dialogue I’ve imagined…

“What, young apprentice, is the sound of one hand clapping?”

“Master, I have studied this problem. The answer is that the question is not meant to be answered.”

“Incorrect. Now I must hit you with my stick.”

“Master, no! I have read the scrolls of the Ancients. There can be no other interpretation!”

“You think you understand the Ancients, yet you dishonor them with words. Perhaps the force of my blow will teach you to mind your tongue.”

“Ow! Master, please. If that is not the answer, then what is? Please, guide me. Master?”

“You have answered the riddle, yes, but in answering the riddle you have not answered the riddle.”

“I think I see the answer now, master. The answer is silence.”

“I am not convinced that you understand. Shall I strike you with this stick once more?”

“Master, no! Ow! I understand now. Ow!”

“Go now, young apprentice. The question and I are tired of your eager tongue.” 

Next time, ignore this riddle or punch the person asking it in the face. That’s what Wittgenstein would want us to do.

No comments: