by Patrick Călinescu
edited by Nigel Walker
Outside is the opposite of inside-the exterior is firmly opposed to the interior, it would seem, both linguistically and logically.
If the linguistic dichotomy appears to be as fixed as the Aristotelian stars, the logical one, however, may have loosened its grip on this stellar array, which we behold, and for a change turned to the more contemporary Einsteinian flexibility.
Perhaps paradoxically, language, which is a system that looks very much like a schizoid entity, is less pliable than logic is. In order for it to make sense to people at all, language must work in pairs of synonyms and of antonyms that oppose each other in terms of meaning; in pairs of nouns and of verbs that oppose each other grammatically; in pairs of adjectives and of adverbs that oppose each other’s qualifying abilities; in pairs of morphological paradigms and of syntactical syntagmas that compete with each other pretty much in the same way as the two hemispheres of the human brain do; finally, in pairs of sense and of nonsense that are forever at each other’s throats. Logic, which by contrast is more pliable than language is, seems, in consequence, to be less dominated by this type of schizoid way of being. Logic has, one must not forget, its own irreducible oppositions (truth opposing-or contradicting-falsehood) but these, on closer investigation, do seem to be somewhat superficial and formal. Genuine logic, one could always argue, is not about finding what is true in something which, as a consequence of its being true, is therefore not false. Genuine logic, which must run a lot deeper than this schizoid formalism, is, one would further argue, all about finding the foundation on which truth and falsehood can interact with each other and oppose each other as freely as that foundation’s design, itself based on sheer intellectual power, will allow.
Genuine logic, then, is, by all accounts, all about the power of the human intellect to mess with reality on all its levels. If, for instance, the intellect of a particular individual is strong enough to cause as much devastation in the generally perceived reality as to undo it altogether in order to replace it with another reality-perhaps even completely contradictory to the one just ousted-then it is completely logical that the newly emerged reality, which had just supplanted the newly rejected reality, should become, at least for a while, the perceived reality-the perceived reality that is as logical and official in the eyes of its dwellers as any of those realities which had preceded it.
This means-this rather proves-that logic is, indeed, more elastic than language. It also proves that logic, whenever sprung from a superior intellect, has a very strong, appetizing apocalyptic quality to it. Quite logically, it can destroy whole worlds and, similarly logically, it can put in their place others no less entitled to being considered logical than the ones that had come before.
Having pointed out all that needed to be pointed out about the real difference between language and logic, I return to the apparent opposition between the exterior and the interior.
As I’ve already said, linguistically at least, they’re quite the opposite of each other. No one would even dare undermine such a pervasive matter-of-factness. Who in their right mind would be able to contradict or even reverse this almost mathematical truth about their spinning round each other in manifest opposition to each other? Perhaps only the awesome power of a reality-altering human intellect.
In my humble opinion, the exterior and the interior are not antonyms. Linguistically, they must be forced to reflect the true nature of the logic on whose foundation they can be unequivocal synonyms. Indeed, the exterior and the interior are completely one and the same thing. They’re simply interchangeable and palimpsestic. The exterior can at any time become the interior, which it nevertheless is, and the interior can at any time become the exterior, which it nevertheless is as well. They overlap each other to perfection. However, what has prevented them from being acknowledged as logical synonyms and, by extension, linguistic synonyms, has been the lack of visibility of the common ground on which their overlapping takes place-and in relation to which their interchangeability comes into effect. Sadly, this common ground, as I’ve decided to call it, has never been seen by any of the proponents of the dichotomy of the exterior and the interior. This common ground actually looks like an axis which revolves around the outside and the inside of its rotational space. Metaphors aside, it is clear that the exterior and the interior can only be seen as synonyms if they’re seen from the point of view of this common ground upon which both outside and inside meet. In other words, the exterior and the interior become synonyms only in relation to something that is completely alien to them, yet bringing them in perfect, almost identifying consonance with one another. This third party-this common ground-in relation to which the exterior and the interior unite is both outside and inside them. Linguistically, this merging point bears a name that is both completely outside their scope and completely inside their expectations. Logically, it means the same thing irrespective of its being seen from the outside-or from the inside. It is the English word of “beyond.” Thus, the exterior and the interior are synonymous in relation to what lies, outwardly and inwardly, beyond the exterior and the interior. They become synonymous, as it were, only in relation to what lies vastly beyond the outside of their exterior and the inside of their interior. On both sides of this beyond, the exterior and the interior look perfectly the same. Beyond both the exterior and the interior, the exterior and the interior are already expected to be at quite a distance from both their respective selves and each other. They’re consequently expected to be so far from their respective selves and each other that the distance between them and this beyond in relation to which they have steadily been growing apart is already almost unimaginably unfathomable. They’ve put such a distance between themselves and this beyond from which they’re still moving away that they have actually become parallel to each other. This beyond from which they’re uninterruptedly moving away is almost out of sight-almost out of touch. So distant has this beyond of their origin become that the vast distance it has put on either of its sides-both on the side of the exterior and on the side of the interior-has rendered their “outsideness” and “insideness” utterly useless. They’re so distant from both their respective selves and each other that they can no longer be said to be outside of something or inside of something. The exterior or the interior can’t even be said to be beyond something that is either outside or inside them. Paradoxical as it may sound, by becoming parallel to each other-by virtually reaching a point where no contact is ever again to be possible between them-they have attained genuine and unequivocal synonymy. The only way for the exterior and the interior to become completely synonymous, it would seem, is if some third party-some common meeting ground-separates them so categorically and so permanently that they lose both spatial and semantic coherence. If the exterior and the interior are made to grow away from each other and their respective selves; if they’re made to put ever more distance between each other and their respective selves; if, by moving away from each other, their respective selves and their beyond of origin, which common ground has initiated and facilitated the constant increase in distance between them, they no longer have the ability to mean “outside” and “inside” when referred to; if the exterior and the interior is made to go through all these changes, then it can be said in full confidence that they have become truly, universally synonymous. On the one hand, the exterior and the interior are finally synonymous because they no longer bear these meanings. If they no longer mean “outside” and “inside,” they can’t be antonyms anymore. Hence, they can no longer oppose each other. On the other hand, the exterior and the interior are finally synonymous because the original distance between them, which had allowed them to oppose each other, has become so incomprehensibly large that it has completely thinned out into the absolute parallelism within which they’ve of late begun to exist. Hence, in the absence of any discernible distance, the exterior and the interior can no longer oppose each other. They are synonyms.
Outside and inside remain, of course, the same prominent couple that they’ve always been both in language and in logic. What’s changed, though, is only the tensions at work within their troubling bosom. By the sheer power of the human intellect, the exterior and the interior have been given another foundation on which to function as logically as ever-another reality within which to co-exist as logically as humanly possible.