East Meets West

Just received “The Meeting of East and West” by F.S.C. Northrop (MacMillan, 1946, 1st ed, 2nd impression) (just said that) and what a book. This is the volume that so influenced Pirsig on his troopship return from Korea in 1948. The book that turned a lateral drifter into pursuer of something important (ZMM25 p124). Anyway, I read the intro and first chapter before getting out of bed this morning.

Given that I got on this knowledge modelling lark from an ISO Information Standards angle, it’s spooky to find the entire volume prefaced with the quote from Chinese philosopher Mo-Tih “Where standards differ there will be opposition. But how can the standards in the world be unified?”

Given my obsession with the Catch-22 of my manifesto, it is even spookier for me to find the opening sentence is “Ours is a paradoxical world.” In fact I’ve already counted the word paradox 4 times in the first 6 pages. As I’ve been discussing with Matt Kundert recently, this paradox would be joke, non-existent meta-physically, if we were not so culturally hidebound by the linguistic metaphors of apparently rational decision making processes. As Northrop says, “The paradox appears in a purely verbal, but none-the-less important, form ….”

Of course this is a book written during and published immediately after WWII, so questions of world harmony were topical. Topical !? I keep saying nothing new under the sun – it was ever thus – and Northrop talks of “ever present” issues.

A very promising start.

3 thoughts on “East Meets West”

  1. I see that this message is from more than 3 years ago and wonder if the writer has thought more about it. “The Meeting of East and West” was written at the immediate end of World War II and pondered the future disharmony which was likely. We have been through the Cold War and now are facing clashes of culture. These clashes are again framed by both sides as irreconcileable differences. Can there be a meeting? Northrup is equally relevant today as he was some 60 years ago.

  2. I hope you get that message from my blog too. Northrop is totally relevant. Nothing new under the sun.

    Thanks for your support.

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