Tuesday, January 10, 2012

your aliases and mine

Is there anything -- anything at all -- which, upon investigation, doesn't reach out like early-morning mist in a valley, touching every leaf and limb, fawn and mountain lion, blossom and twig? I don't think so, but there is some reluctance to say so: Mentioning the "interconnectedness of all things" usually means that the interconnectedness of all things goes begging. The magician waves a wondrous magic wand ... and the magic is lost.

It's a personal choice, what to investigate and what to ignore. Anything will do. It's the investigation that counts. "All roads lead to Rome." There is no escaping the home we never left, but, simultaneously, that doesn't mean we don't try pretty hard ... looking for the way home, shilling for "the interconnectedness of all things" and so forth.

This morning, the word "alias" popped into my mind. "Alias" is defined by one Internet dictionary as:

otherwise called : otherwise known as
 The word appears to have its roots in the Latin "alius,"  meaning "other." Criminals, dictators, baseball players, people in the witness protection program, Zen students ... there seems to be no end to those who adopt or have thrust upon them an alias -- some name that is other than the truth.

But the underlying assumption of an "alias" is that there is some name that is not "other," that is true and offers a superior vantage point from which to view the falsehood of aliases. My birth name, for example, is Adam Fisher. In Zen Buddhism, I was given the 'true' or Dharma name Genkaku. "Genkaku" is, among other things, an encouragement and a protection and a countering of all the aliases that Adam Fisher can concoct. Genkaku means "original realization" or "original understanding." So, in one sense, Genkaku is not an alias at all. It points to something for which "Adam Fisher" is an alias. Or is it the other way around? ... Adam Fisher is an assumed name, an other name, a truer name, for Genkaku.

The magician waves the wand ... and in so doing, the magic is lost.

Usually, the smugness of the one applying the word "alias" goes unchallenged. The assumption is that because I can point out the false name I therefore have a handle on the true name. By knowing what is "other" or "untrue," I assert my dwelling place in the "truth."

This presumption is ludicrous (if common enough). But if it is ludicrous, then the question might be asked, "What is not ludicrous?" or "What is not an alias?"

Going down this Yellow Brick Road, assuming anyone wanted to, can lead to all sorts of conclusions about the alias or alien nature of language, about what is true and what is false, about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Truth and falsehood, self and other, commingle. Things are not so assured ... so an abject humility can arise. But treating things with a halting and delicate 'wisdom' is no better than asserting a bludgeoning bias: If truth is falsehood and falsehood is truth, what is the truth?

The magician waves his wand ... and in so doing, the magic is lost.

Achtung! Achtung! Be on the lookout for George Kelley Barnes ... also known as Machine Gun Kelly, who died in 1954.

Achtung! Achtung! Be on the lookout for Adam Fisher ... also known as Genkaku.

Attention! Attention! Be on the lookout for 'me' ... also known as me.

Attention! Attention! Be on the lookout for the person in mirror ... the one with innumerable aliases.

The magician waves his wand ... and in so doing, the magic is lost.

What a fine magician!

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