Towards A Theory Of Cymbalism



All I Want


A statement of desire. Let us begin by noting that words are not themselves the ultimate objects of desire; rather, we find that words are found wanting. What is it that words desire? Form, content, syntax, semantics, structure? Again, these words are not themselves the objects of desire – they too are found wanting. No mere symbol is the obect of desire of another symbol. As against this, it is our contention that words are cymbals, which desire to crash with each passionate heart-beat. That is to say, words that are found wanting have desires (not objects) as their object.


As we shall later point out, though, it is a certain special kind of desire which is relevant for our theory of cymbalism. We shall argue that there is an important distinction between desire qua desire, and what we shall call the ‘otherness’ of desire. This latter sort of desire has an object as its object. However, the kind of desire relevant for our theory of cymbalism is not this latter sense of desire, rather, the relevant sense of desire is desire qua desire. Although we shall explain this notion of desire in more detail below, we can note to begin with that desire qua desire is essentially semantic, by which we mean that this sort of desire is necessarily the object of a certain signifier/symbol, or signifiers/symbols.


My Old Man


Let us consider some more words. For example, consider “old men need less sleep than young men, but the slumbers of old men are increasingly numbered”. This is a well known theory, of course. The cymbals of Keith Moon and John Bonham map isomorphically with the desires of the young. Contraposing, the symbols of the Buddha transcend age, but may still be found wanting. For instance, Buddhism states that we must free ourselves from desire (and also hatred, and delusion), to achieve nirvana. Nonetheless, words had to be employed in order to make that statement. Were those words found wanting? If so, such use of words undermines the whole theory of Buddhism. ‘Nirvana’, like many similar words (e.g. ‘banana’, ‘sultana’, ‘Havana’, ‘Valhalla’, ‘Heaven’, and so on) is just a word which is found wanting. What do such words want? If we reply ‘other words’, then we are back where we started, for these words also will be found wanting. When we ask the same question of these other words, i.e. what is it that they want, if we reply ‘yet more words’, it becomes apparent that we are ensnared in a never-ending cycle of words wanting other words, wanting other words etc. ad infinitum. (This would be particularly ironic for Buddhists, who presumably wish to break free of all such cycles, yet they insist on using words to state their theory, leading to the very situation just described. It should be noted however that our theory of cymbalism is not restricted to Buddhism.)


Little Green


To avoid the kind of never-ending sequence described above, we need to offer a different sort of explanation regarding the object of desire of words that are found wanting. Our contention is that the object of desire in question is not other words, however it is not objects either. Rather, the object of desire of words that are found wanting is desire of a certain kind. At least, this is what we shall attempt to demonstrate here, using certain words. That is to say, the words which we shall use are certain, yet they may still be found wanting. We freely admit this, because only in such admission can symbols clash against cymbals. Our theory of cymbalism concerns a certain juxtaposition of symbol against cymbal; only once this juxtaposition has been shown, can we see that symbols, but not cymbals, are found wanting. (If our theory is to be able to explain the desires of words, it also must also nonetheless also explain the world of desire, too: we shall return to this point below.)


Before proceeding, at this point it may be interesting to note that in discovering the desire of symbols, we can reveal their true essence, which turns out (perhaps surprisingly) to be reflexive in nature. For instance, consider the word ‘green’. Does it not, intuitively, have a green essence, at least under certain familiar conditions (which for the time-being may remain unspecified)?