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.