Saturday, February 9, 2008

Through the Looking-Glass

The White Knight gives Alice a lesson in Buddhist Logic. When an innocent questioner asks an experienced Buddhist questions about his religion, the answers must seem as confusing as the Knight's answers to Alice. Though his logic was impeccable, and his intentions were the best (to relieve Alice's suffering and cheer her up by playing a song), it just didn't make sense. The logic was baffling and the song was dull. What actually happened was a reversal of roles: by Alice enduring without complaint his bad entertainment, the White Knight's suffering was relieved -- temporarily.
"You look sad," the Knight said in an anxious tone: "let me sing you a song to comfort you."
"Is it very long?" Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
"It's long," said the Knight, "but it's very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it -- either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else --"
"Or else what?" said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
"Or else it doesn't, you know. The name of the song is called 'Haddocks' Eyes.'"
"Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?" Alice said, trying to feel interested.
"No, you don't understand," the Knight said, looking a little vexed. "That's what the name is called. The name really is 'The Aged Aged Man.'"
"Then I ought to have said 'That's what the song is called'?" Alice corrected herself.
"No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called, 'Ways and Means': but that's only what it's called, you know!"
"Well, what is the song, then?" said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
"I was coming to that," the Knight said. "The song really is 'A-sitting On A Gate':
and the tune's my own invention."

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