Let us begin again in Plato’s Pharmacy.  The great inventor is presenting his invention to the King—writing is presented to the authority. The King’s reply, announced Derrida, “will be incisive”: for since its very first appearance, writing comes from outside and below, from a position antithesis to that of the authority. It therefore attains an anti-authoritarian quality. The King is hesitant, for he cannot control it: the pharmakon, the drug, at once heals and poisons; it never seems bounded in any assigned meanings and contexts, always on the move, building and destructing; it is always open to new interpretations, and sporadically so.
Holidays and weekends simply go away too fast for us. We would start by planning some elaborate activities, in hope of some true excitement, only to find ourselves lost, wandering about the day with no sense of orientation. By nightfall we have no choice but to exclaim, “nothing really happened!”
Such feelings are similar to our reaction towards “An Encounter,” a short story in James Joyce’s Dubliners. A lot has been said about other pieces in the collection. For one, scholars have done elaborate research trying to figure out the meaning of “The Sisters,” in particular, the word “paralysis,” which is mentioned in the beginning of the story. It has been argued from multiple angles that “paralysis”, which symbolizes the dark and lackluster Irish society, constitutes the underlying theme of all the stories in Dubliners. (Kelly, xxiv) But when it comes to “An Encounter,” much less can be said. The narrator and two friends of his, playing truant, originally planned “to go along the Wharf Road until we came to the ships, then to cross in the ferryboat and walk out to see the Pigeon House.” (Joyce, “An Encounter” 20) But one of the three never showed up, and they never got to the Pigeon House; instead, the narrator and Mahony encountered “a queer old josser,” who bored them with his monologue and made the narrator feel afraid. (26) The ending is abrupt, and just like our typical weekends, “nothing really happened.”
There is a famous anecdote about the Theory of Relativity. After Albert Einstein’s paper had been published, rumor has it that Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the propagators of the theory, was one of the only three persons in the world to understand it. When asked about the rumor during a casual conversation, Eddington allegedly paused for a moment, then replied: “I’m trying to think who the third person is.” Continue reading