Oriental Symbol Bashing

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Oh, I just love those Oriental parables ridiculing symbolic communication. This was a new one for me (read it with Jorge Wagensberg’s aphorism in mind: “To compress is to comprehend”):

Every essay ought to end with a summary. Since this isn’t an essay, I’ll end with an adaptation of a Taoist story instead of a summary:

A musician performed a new piece he had written for his best friend. The friend sat in wonder and listened to the entire piece. When it was over, he nodded and told the musician that the music was wonderful. But what, he wondered, did the piece mean?

The musician nodded at this question and bent over his instrument, then played the entire piece again from the beginning.

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