[lit-ideas] Re: Got Home

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2012 10:32:56 +0000 (GMT)

Though the song is not a theological argument, it does use certain key phrases 
(and avoids others). In conclusion, like many songs by Leonard, it is somewhat 
open-ended, here as to questions of the afterlife. There is nothing specific to 
indicate there is an afterlife after we have gone home, nor anything specific 
to deny that there is. What there is 

Going home
Without my burden
Going home
Behind the curtain
Going home
Without the costumeThat I wore
suggests that, whatever is behind the curtain (which may be 'nothing'), it does 
not involve the trappings of our earthly appearance ["the costume"]. There is 
no suggestion that we come back out from behind the curtain (after a quick 
costume change, say) and so there is nothing in the words to justify the view 
that it is about "death (false self) and then rebirth (true self)". For 
rebirth, in say the Buddhist sense, would involve coming out from behind the 
curtain, usually in a new costume. There is nothing about "rebirth" either 
stated or clearly implied: in fact, "going home" is arguably antithetical to 
"rebirth", and certainly does not imply or include the idea of "rebirth". As 
far as the song goes there is a "going home" and that is it. 

Andy's interpolation that we have death of a "false sense" and then comes some 
"true self" is also not justified by the words. It is true that lines like 
"without the costume that  I wore" implies a shedding of some outward 
appearances - but these do not necessarily equate to a "false self". For maybe 
the self on earth needs a "costume"? So to say these necessary coverings are 
"false" is, in a sense, as mistaken as saying the shoes I wear are "false". 
This raises the question of whether after death there is even a "self" to speak 
of, or a "self" in the sense of our earthly selves. Perhaps only our earthly 
selves, with their "burden", are selves? Perhaps there is no "I" behind the 
curtain because there is no costume to differentiate an "I" there. Perhaps 
there is no "I" there because all that is "my burden" no longer exists there. 
All this, I suggest, is left open. 

Is this nihilism? Well, would destruction of our earthly selves, with their 
"burden", be a nihilism in the sense of something that renders life 
"meaningless"? Or might it be release and a release against which life can well 
have its meanings? Though no expert, I mention that the Catholic church has 
recently clarified its idea of a heavenly afterlife. It is not a heaven of 
disembodied selves but a heaven where after death we become 'one again' with 
God in the universe - an end of self in any earthly measure. I doubt the 
Catholic church views such teaching as nihilism - though clearly it is 
nihilistic in the sense that it repudiates the idea that we can measure such 
things as the afterlife in earthly terms.

As regards World 123, I feel you do not understood the point (which I take from 
Popper) about Worlds 2 and 3 being central to what is uniquely human.

Donal
Salop

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