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It was going out into the air saying: good morning. Paz , 98—99 This passage hints at the notion of approaching otherness in a more ethically compelling way than the one expressed in The Bow and the Lyre. Instead, he is a labyrinth-wanderer. They walk the labyrinths of language without a map, and without following a trail. For Paz, as for Heidegger Bruns , , language is a mystery that cannot be contained in categories and propositions; it always overflows and subverts them. Moreover, for Paz—as for Heidegger and the early Wittgenstein Rorty —the role of language is not only as a means of communication.

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Above all, it is an endeavour to say the unsayable, to articulate what exceeds the limits of language. It also contains allusions to various undisclosed but well-known poems—such as T. The path of memory transports the speaker back to the sacred labyrinth of Galta. Along the path of reading, the speaker walks a labyrinth of written and visual texts, and, along the path of poetic writing, he explores the mazes of dialectical, deconstructive, and poetic thinking. But, even more importantly, the paths of memory, reading, and poetic writing also reflect the act of Creation itself.

The key idea that Paz uses to answer this question, I propose, is the idea of Romantic poetry. The modern image of the world that modern critique discloses, he concludes, is a vertiginous emptiness or vacuity that can only be contemplated and tolerated if observed with the lens of aesthetic irony or rationalistic philosophy The idea of Romantic poetry is the link that he uses to connect the principles of analogy and critique in order to reconcile the metaphysical and the physical worlds, the eternal and the temporal realms, history and myth, reason and the imagination.

As in traditional analogia entis, the speaker sets out to explain the analogical character of reality by establishing relations among entities, and by meditating on the nature of common names. Through analogy, Paz sets out accomplish one of the main goals of Romantic poetry: to disclose the ultimate reality and unity of things.

At the same time, through irony, he endeavours to realize the other equally important aim of Romantic poetry: to call into question and relativize every claim to knowledge, and particularly knowledge of the absolute. In so doing, he implicitly agrees with Hall that: The proper response to the actual limitations qualifying every finite quest for ideal wisdom is neither skeptical surrender nor the dogmatic claim that finality has been reached.

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The only fruitful attitude is one of irony, which promotes the sense that though one is on the road to a final destination the character of which makes the journey worthwhile, the failure to reach the goal does not cancel the desire to seek it. The act of walking, reading, and writing are to him analogous, which implies that they are similar yet different. Each path represents a particular way of seeking knowledge of reality; each path discloses a different, and an equally important, aspect or dimension of reality. Paz resorts to analogical thinking in order to say something about transcendent reality in terms of associations discovered among beings, things, texts, and events.

As noted already, he recounts this experience in Fragments 12, 14, and By recalling the path of Galta, he is therefore conjuring up this experience. One of the basic aims of the path of memory is to revisit and recount this metaphysical experience. The path of memory is described in Fragments 1, 3, 5, 6, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 25, 27, 28, and It should also be borne in mind that the paths of memory, poetic writing, and reading are not fully distinct.

In fact, as the narrative progresses, they merge and become almost entirely indistinct. This is especially the case toward the end, in Fragments 21, 25, and Nevertheless, by and large, and especially up to Fragment 24, the path of memory does not converge with the path of poetic writing, except in Fragments 1, 6, and 16, when they are indiscernible.

By contrast, the path of poetic writing and the path of reading are often indiscernible. Similarly, the path of poetic writing can be more clearly seen in Fragments 2, 4, 18, 22, and Before quoting this long passage, it is worthwhile making three observations. First, the fact that the pilgrims are ascending suggests that they are making the journey to light, which is a common metaphor in both Western and Eastern religions Campbell The wind does not complain: man is the one who hears, in the complaint of the wind, the complaint of time. Man hears himself and looks at himself everywhere: the world is his mirror; the world neither hears us nor looks at itself in us; no one sees us, no one recognises himself in man.

To those hills we were strangers, as were the first men who, millennia ago, first walked among them. Their pilgrimage on foot was the immemorial rite of the abolishing of differences. Yet those pilgrims knew something that I did not know; the sound of human syllables was simply one more noise amid the other noises of the afternoon. A different sound, yet one identical to the screams of the monkeys, the cries of the parakeets, and the roar of the wind.

To know this was to reconcile oneself with time, to reconcile all times with all other times. Furthermore, by participating in this simple yet meaningful ritual, he learns to listen to the sounds of the cosmos as a polyphonic chant and as a metaphor of the joy of being, rather than as a cacophony of meaningless or equivocal noises, or as the rustling of nothingness or of irrevocable, timeless death. My account of the path of memory would be incomplete if I did not take into consideration the recurrent vision Paz has in Galta, which he mentions several times in a variety of ways.

For example, in Fragment 12, he writes about the moment when time seemingly came to come to a halt. This happens in Fragment 20 for the path of reading , and in Fragment 28 for the path of poetic writing. I will show that he espouses neither monism nor variabilism but analogy, the pluralistic doctrine that being remains the same despite the changes in its parts Krapiec, para. I refer to this position as the analogical sense of being. What does this mean? As Mieczyslaw Krapiec explains, This relational identity of being, alongside changes in relations, we call analogy within being.

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He mentions this grove of trees on numerous occasions throughout the text, using it as an example of a concrete entity that exists independently of his mind and his perceptions. Moreover, he clearly believes that in addition to the grove of trees, there are many other things in the world, and that each of them actually exists: e. Each thing exists concretely and independently of him.

Moreover, none of these things is more nor less real than the others, nor than his own thoughts. For example, although he can think or say anything he wants about the grove of trees, and can conceivably do anything he wants to it, he claims that it nonetheless exists independently of him. As he says, The grove does not have a name and these trees are not signs: they are trees. They are real and they are illegible. Although I refer to them when I say: these trees are illegible, they do not think of themselves as being referred to.

I can fell them, burn them, chop them, turn them into masts, chairs, boats, houses, ashes … but these trees, the ones that I point to, the ones that are over there just beyond, always just beyond, my signs and my words, untouchable unreachable impenetrable, are what they are, and no name, no combination of signs says them. Paz , The speaker not only believes that the world is composed of myriad actually existing concrete things; he also believes that each of these things is composed of many parts or elements, e.

Moreover, each grove is different from every other, and is also heterogeneous in itself.

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According to him, it is always the same grove of trees and its constant changes do not transform it into either a rock or a locomotive; moreover, it is not unique: the world is full of groves of trees like it. Am I exaggerating though? This grove does indeed resemble others, since otherwise it would not be called a grove of trees but would have another name; yet at the same time its reality is unique and would really deserve to have a proper name.

To state it briefly, while the speaker agrees with Heraclitus that all things are in a constant state of flux, he believes that they are nevertheless identical with themselves at every singular moment. According to him, in the end things are nothing but their visible properties. They are as we see them, they are what we see and I exist only because I see them. There is no other side, there is no bottom or crack or hole: everything is an adorable, impassible, abominable, impenetrable surface.

I touch the present, I plunge my hand into the now, and it is as though I were plunging it into air, as though I were touching shadows, embracing reflections.

A magic surface, at once insubstantial and impenetrable; all these realities are a fine-woven veil of presences that hide no secret. The main problem and challenge for him is that language usually does not allow us to either apprehend or disclose reality. However, in contrast to them, the speaker believes that language should be able to capture the processual nature of things, and, furthermore, that sometimes it actually does.

This happens in poetry, he claims. The following is a quote from Fragment The reality that poetry reveals and that appears behind language—the reality visible only through the destruction of language that the poetic act represents—is literally intolerable and maddening.

At the same time, without the vision of this reality man is not man, and language is not language. Poetry gives us sustenance and destroys us, it gives us speech and dooms us to silence. It accomplishes this by making language opaque and obscure so that it neither communicates nor represents anything other than itself. Only then does language fulfill its function, he claims, which consists of giving us the measure of all things. This implies that poetry not human beings, not God is the measure of things. This requires that I also discuss the mystical character of language, to which Paz alludes in the above quotation.

In order to do this, it is first necessary to introduce what I call the path of reading. The Path of Reading As pointed out earlier, this path offers a series of free interpretations of both written and visual texts. To explain the significance of these two fragments for the path of reading, I will first offer my interpretation of what I see taking place in Fragments 2 and 4, both of which belong to the path of poetic writing.


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In these two fragments, the speaker begins his reflections on the grove of trees. In Fragment 2, he describes this grove in terms of metaphors that suggest movement and complexity, on the one hand, and stillness and simplicity, on the other. A mountain is, of course, a massive structure that can only be shaken by an earthquake or brought down with explosives. However, a mountain of leaves can easily be dispersed by the wind.

When the speaker adds branches to it, he thus makes it stronger and makes it seem more like a tree. Then he sees the trees from another perspective: they are quiet, tenacious, self-possessed, patient, heroic, and virtuous, like epic heroes. Patience: the heroism of plants. What does the grove of trees signify or symbolize? As suggested above, the speaker uses it as an example of a concretely existing being whose reality is both unquestionable and irreducible to language. Moreover, the grove embodies the plural and paradoxical nature of things.

Not only is it a composite being, but it is unchanging in its changing identity. In short, it is an image of analogical being. The grove of trees, like being, is for the speaker neither a fixed, homogeneous substance nor an unstable, heterogeneous constellation of processes. It is the product of the struggle between two basic, contradictory worldviews in constant strife with one another: Parmenidean monism and Heraclitean variabilism.