By Brian George
15There is a Sufi story about a figure called Nasruddin. Nasruddin is a “fool,” but this trait is ambiguous. He is sometimes an ecstatic fool, crazed with wisdom, the confidant of the beloved, and at other times a regular fool, and is just as often some combination of the two. The actions of this brain dead genius are absurd—but absurd in such a way as to provoke us to a leap of association. The story goes as follows:
One day, as a friend walks up, Nasruddin is examining the ground beneath a lamp outside his house. His friend asks what he is doing. Nasruddin replies that he is looking for his keys, and that, without them, he will not be able to get into his house. One by one, his neighbors come to help out with the search. After several hours, his friend asks, “Tell me, Hoja, are you sure that you lost your keys in this particular spot?”
“No,” Nasruddin answers, “Don’t be absurd! If they were here, then we would certainly have discovered them by now. I lost them in the weeds outside the marketplace.” His friend says, “But then why are we looking here if you lost them in the weeds outside the marketplace? As though nothing could be more obvious, Nasruddin says, “Because the light is so much better here—right underneath this lamp!”
16In our attempt to locate the key to the subject/ object dichotomy, did the subject of the experiment prove himself a fool? Did the lamp of philosophy lead him to look for the right object in the wrong location? The face of the philosopher is dark. We see only eight out of 16 primal chromosomes, then 23 out of 46, and then 64 out of 128. Of the hypersphere, we see a cusp. We know where we prefer to look, and yet our house keys have thrown themselves into the weeds outside the marketplace. A world snake guards the appearance of the face that existed before birth.
(Illustration: Rene Magritte, The Empire of Light)