In the first section of our reading of Boon’s In Praise of Copying I was taken by the idea of objects having essencelessness. In my research I have been trying to attribute personalities within objects and investigate how meaning gets attached to things and their forms. To consider the argument that objects are fundamentally empty and can therefore become anything or nothing depending on which interpretation is injected into it, makes the phenomenon of how we choose our objects to solidify our identities very interesting.
To think of the object as being empty, waiting to be filled up with the interpretations, intentions, desires and needs of the individual no matter its form or intended function opens the grounds for recognition of objects as physical, transitional beings. The object becomes ever-changing since the experiencer/user of the object is constantly shifting their platforms of perception, which puts the experience in a sphere of impertinence thereby making the interpretation just as much so. All of these momentary perceptions influencing momentary instances all to rest on differing interpretations really makes the mind whirl. To step further into the Buddhist school of thought and to understand the self as being in a state of selflessness, meaning there is no true self that is deciding, then how to determine what type of meaning of experience will be felt and who is in control; the object or the subject? To think of both the individual and the object to be in a state of essencelessness flux, awaiting identities to be assigned onto them I find to be an intriguing and somewhat confusing concept.
When Boon is explaining the essencelessness of objects in relation to the copy, it is easy to see how the meaning of what is copy and what is original becomes incredibly blurred. If a copy is viewed as a deceptive original then we tend to attribute distain for it since we want so badly to believe in realities outward appearance even though we are creating the illusions of our realities constantly. The demand of stability and truth we urn for from our objects and surroundings becomes almost comical when considering that we as individual identities are ever changing, unstable beings. Perhaps this is the reason that we put such importance towards “finding the truth” since the underlying feeling of insecurity is calling out as we try to build our egos and attach it to a sense of self that just isn’t there to begin with. Just as the copy plays at being the original, we play at trying on roles to justify our identities.
I can’t help but feel a sense of detachment when reflecting on these impressions which makes we wonder further if the idea of essencelessness/selflessness/emptiness is starting to sink in.
Marcus Boon. In Praise of Copying (Cambridge, MA & London: Harvard University Press, 2010).
Jack Kornfield. “Identity and Selflessness in Buddhism:No Self or True Self?” Tricyle Magazine. https://tricycle.org/magazine/no-self-or-true-self/