A couple of unfortunate souls reading this blog might have read Lousirr’s “Lah/Meh” post before I took it down. Utter madness. But anyway… Lousirr’s words remained in my mind: the rather arbitrary words “meh” and “lah”. There’s something nice to using meaningless new words, a clean slate on which to build concepts, avoiding any preconceived ideas already attached to pre-existing words. (We can always later return to using an existing word, should that prove more valuable.) Right… applying some courage and get this thing written and published.
“What is truth?” Greg asks. Shawn looks at him for a moment. A twinkle in her ambiguous eyes… Sadness? Or an eager excitement? It matters not, he knows that is not for him to know. She shifts her gaze back to the valley. Grey. Sombre. Obscure. The grey of the lake is reflected in the sky, the trees seem lazy, slouching, frozen. Silence. Not a breeze, no rustle of leaves. She takes a breath. And sings! A note, a song, reflected by the boulders to their left, absorbed by the trees on the right, echoed by the flock of birds that just took flight nearby. Suddenly the valley looks cool and calm, rather than sombre. The trees look peaceful, relaxed rather than slouching. And the birds dance in the sky.
Lah and Meh
Lah is reality. Lah is the mountains, the rocks, the birds, the trees, the lake, the things we can touch and feel. The things we interact with. Reality. Lah is the grass. Lah is the sun, burning hydrogen and producing helium, a cosmic fusion power plant, like humans can presently only dream of building.
Meh is our subjective experience. Meh is our language, our emotions, our communication. When we say “the grass is green”, it does not make the grass green. What is “green” anyway? “Green” is Meh. The grass reflects light with a particular wavelength, which is sensed by our eyes, our retinas. Lah. The subjective experience of that Lah is what we call “green”. Meh. The question “might what I see as green, look like purple to you?” is really a senseless question. There is no way to communicate the subjective experience. (Of course, thousands of years hence, neuroscience points out: “Look what a fool Hugo was!”) And there is no point in communicating it anyway. We all understand that “green” means the way you experience a particular wavelength. The colour-blind person can not experience green and red, and can only dream of it. Still, the eyes of the colour-blind person catches the light reflected by the grass…
All our inter-personal communication takes place in Meh. The Lah in the transaction is just the tool we use, the air particles bouncing off one another, transferring energy in the form of a sound wave, from vocal chords to eardrums. Meh is the meaning we attach to these vibrations. Meh doesn’t “exist” like Lah does, Meh is experienced and understood subjectively.
On the other hand, we cannot actually know that Lah exists. We assume it does, on the grounds of our Meh. Our experiences.
Solipsism (Latin: solus, alone + ipse, self) is the philosophical idea that “My mind is the only thing that I know exists.” Solipsism is an epistemological or metaphysical position that knowledge of anything outside the mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. (Wikipedia)
So which is really more real? Meh or Lah?
Empiricism and Science
Science deals with empiricism, science deals with Lah. Science tests things. The process of testing is our process of “communicating” with Lah. We can also communicate through more direct use of Lah. Depending on the context, such communication can be clearer, or just as ambiguous. It always comes down to context. I punch you, you move. Lah. You experience pain and emotional anguish as to why I would do such a thing. Meh. I wash your feet. Lah. Your experience is still Meh, but in a particular culture, in a particular context, an act in Lah speaks louder than words.
Sorry, the feet-washing example requires knowledge of ancient Jewish context and customs to be fully appreciated. Here’s an easier example: you are crawling across the desert, starved, parched, I give you water. You are freezing out in a blizzard. I gesture you into a log cabin with a fire, and give you a warm bowl of soup. Lah. Meh.
Mythos and Logos
While the original inspiration for the choice of words would be mythos and logos, I’m sure you would agree that those words would be misleading? Logos is often translated to “wisdom” or “logic” or “creative power” or “Word”. Here is one translation that does line up more accurately with Lah, also from Wikipedia:
The notorious question of how to translate logos is topicalised in Goethe’s Faust, with Faust finally opting for “deed, action” (Am Anfang war die Tat).
Action. Deed. Physical demonstration. Lah.
For Future Posts
- Dualities and the third component, e.g. balance.
- A discussion about recursion and the flexibility and subjectivity of Meh and Lah.
(Not discussed here, as to not distract from this post.)
Useful concepts? Better word suggestions? (Though Meh and Lah have grown on me, they do at times sit uncomfortably. Finding something that sits better with me will likely be hard though. In particular, more traditional words more attached to “this reality” will likely fail when it comes to the follow-up post dealing with recursion.)
Oh, and how should a post like this be categorised? Tricky…