17 October 2013
What do you think it might mean to "be" something?
In Irish when one is greatly wanting food, one says "Ta ocras orm." In English we say "I am hungry" but the Irish say "there is hunger upon me." The English seems to say "I have become this thing in my being." We use the same form in discussing just about everything: religion, politics, sex, race, sexuality. We do say "I have a cold", but we go right back to beingness in our jobs, our marriages... Divorces. Just noticed that we say "I am divorced" but not "I am broken up." (Of course, we do say 'I'm all broken up' in another context that is also a good example of what I'm thinking about.)
So, why is it that, consciously or not, we put our being, our very being, into such a linguistic change cycle every time we enter into description?
What do these statements have in common? How is it possible that we use the same words for these things? Do we mean the same thing?
I am married.
I am Republican.
I am Black.
I am English.
I am gay.
I am baptized.
I am drunk.
I am hungry.
I am somebody.
From one angle, of course, we're using shorthand: "I am Republican" is short for "I am a registered member of a specific party." But we don't say that. What we say is that "In the same way that God self-referentially said, 'I am what I am' I refer externally to something other than myself to say 'I am a Communist'."
But is that what we mean?
I note that this is different from saying "I am doing something". I am running means that the being I - whatever that is - is involved in this process of whatever it might be. Only in the most vague newage spiritual language would we ever say "I am batting', meaning 'I have become batting in my being, as we "unify" the self with the sport. We usually only mean "I am batting." I am walking.
The Abrahamic Hindu and Buddhist teach teach very important doctrines about the being of the person and while they have only the sketchiest of common threads, they do rather insist on the being as an ontological closed point, at least as part of the path towards whatever. English ignores all that and says the being has no being but rather fluctuates between this state and that state and this other state where what "I am" today is not what "I am" tomorrow.
How can this possibly be?