Exegesis of Existential Angst


ex·e·ge·sis, pron. eksiˈjēsis is defined as a critical explanation or interpretation of a text. Stop there. Interpretation and explanation, in my view at least, are quite different beasts. An explanation invites little argument (case in point, when your parents ‘explain’ why you can’t go out, there is no logical discussion that follows, it is simply an explanation to file in the large file box of explanations you will receive in your hopefully long-enough life).
An explanation is “scientific.” It’s proven with theorems you are supposed to memorize (but not understand or ever use in your life, except maybe the Pythagorean theorem or when you heat up a beaker in your kitchen to make meth like Walter White, but otherwise, I can’t recall the details of these experiments, but I remember how to set up a ‘problem’ and then wank off for a homework session trying to figure out what ‘solving’ said problem actually means. We’ll move on to why I had such problems with ‘absolute’ solutions in a minute, I guess.)
An interpretation, on the other hand (why not foot? who decided hand? a judge no doubt, or someone who didn’t work with their hands), is something that is ‘believed’ to be a possible ‘explanation’ and by its very nature, a humble, meek sort who wanders around with a cloak on mumbling ‘interpretations’ that can be revoked upon the first sign of disenchantment from those who will judge said ‘interpretation.’
I think there’s more leeway with an interpretation. Say, for example, “Interpretative dance.” There is no “Explanatory Dance.” Or is there?
Now, to add another layer to this maniacally cryptic run-around:

Obviously, only exegesis does justice to the text. Eisegesis is a mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation. Exegesis is concerned with discovering the true meaning of the text, respecting its grammar, syntax, and setting. Eisegesis is concerned only with making a point, even at the expense of the meaning of words.

First of all, I love any expression that is trying to ‘teach’ something that begins with the universally condescending “Obviously.” Secondly, who determines the ‘true meaning’ of anything? If there is an all-knowing entity (which is the subject of the controversy, of course, because humans love nothing more than fighting over who’s right about God, a being we can’t see until we die, so the possibilities for propaganda are endless), what if he/she prefers Eisegesis, because making a point is better than not.
The idea of breaking down the notion of existential angst, as if to counter act all the other publications of truth for which people kill and hate and pray they are right in their killing and hating, as an ancient text appeals to me. But I am only making a point: the love of language is holy in and of itself, because who gave us the ability to mess things up between us with words in the first place? If God hadn’t wanted misinterpretation and messy beauty, why would he/she allowed the first poet to be born?
This was not at all what I started off writing today. It started with the use of ‘exegesis’ in a novel I am reading (yes, an actual book, kids) which I had to look up. When I returned to the novel to see how the author had used the word, it was no longer as important as the other words on the page. Like integer. “Mathematically insoluble.”
“If life is a wager, what form does the bet take?”
-Julian Barnes
The Sense of An Ending
Perhaps I have escaped the all-mighty wrath today because OBVIOUSLY this musing has no point whatsoever.
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