Monday, March 25, 2013

beyond all that

"Beyond" is an interesting word. Look at all the Internet-dictionary definitions:
-- past a place or outside an area
-- farther away than something else
-- outside a particular area
-- outside the range or limits of a subject, quality, or activity
-- used in negative sentences to mean “except”
-- used for saying that something cannot be done
-- after a time or age, or above an amount
-- continuing after a particular time or date
-- more than a particular amount or higher than a particular level
Parsed in this way, "beyond" has a kind of mathematical feel to it, as if it had no real blood or import, as if no one ever wept or wished within its confines.

But put it in a context and suddenly it's Nellie-bar-the-door. "Beyond the anger," "beyond the stars," "beyond the tears," "beyond the mountain," "beyond wealth and poverty," "beyond heaven and earth," "beyond delusion."

"Beyond" is interesting. Its uses and meanings all suggest that something else has been surmounted and left in the past. It has an imperious feel to it as if getting-beyond might somehow conclusively eradicate or defeat that which "beyond" held in its sights.

The fly in the "beyond" ointment is this: In order to get beyond anything, it is necessary to posit the object anyone might wish to be beyond. And if you posit the object -- or thought or emotion or situation -- then, by necessity, you breathe new life into it ... and what you claim to be beyond is something you are not beyond at all.

Is anyone ever beyond anything? I doubt it. But they sure can talk up a storm in the meantime.

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