September 1, 2012

J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known (1969; repr. HarperOne).

Krishnamurti is so simple he's devastatingly deep. It's the distance you keep from others and have with yourself that keeps you from knowing yourself which makes you unhappy and, as an extension, the world a crappy place to inhabit.

But I want to look at Krishnamurti as a rhetorician.

He is the only writer I can remember that has invited me to put his book down.

For example:

"Can we go the very root of violence and be free from it? Otherwise we shall live everlastingly in battle with each other. If that is the way you want to live -- and apparently most people do -- then carry on.; if you say, 'Well, I'm sorry, violence can never end', then you and I have no means of communication, you have blocked yourself; but if you say there might be a different way of living, then we shall be able to communicate with each other" (49).

With this rhetorical move, only four responses can happen in the reader:

1. The reader disagrees, stops, closes the book.
2. The reader is skeptical but continues onward, willing to hear what comes next.
3. The reader continues and is open to following ideas based on the previous discourse.
4. Preaching to the choir.

Once the reader has made it to page 95, Krishnamurti acknowledges the difficulty of the simple thing he has purposed: "Please go on with me a little further. It may be rather complex, rather subtle, but please go on with it."

Rhetorically, throughout, he's tested the mettle of the reader, asking the reader, without shame, to drop out at any time. For those that make it to the end, there is no huzzah. If you want/need a huzzah, then you should start again at page one.


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