I got to thinking over yesterday’s Beyond Spooky (p.149) post. In particular, I was wondering what effect, if any, the capitalization of proper names has on Western thought. One thing I appreciate about Chinese characters is the lack of capitalization. The character 道 (dào or tao) means road, way, path; channel, course; way, path; doctrine, principle; Taoism, Taoist; superstitious sect; line; say, talk, speak; think, suppose. However, the only way to distinguish between road and capital ‘T’ Taoism is through context, not capitalization. By design, capitalization skews perception toward elitism — or at least does nothing to counteract it.
I think of myself as a small ‘t’ Taoist, but my computer automatically changes the small ‘t’ that I type to a capital T. Thinking of myself as a small ‘t’ rather than a capital ‘T’ Taoist feels more egalitarian, impartial, and connected to the whole. In other words, less tribal and more in line with chapter 67…
Without capitalization, the way resembles nothing out of the ordinary. With capitalization, The Way lends and air of distinction and promotes a wall of difference, just the opposite of vast and resembles nothing.
This wall of difference only heightens the perceived difference between groups, be they political, religious, ethnic, sports, nation-states, etc. While such tribal associations are innate and natural, such walls only hinder comprehension of chapter 56’s, This is known as mysterious sameness. As chapter 20 puts it, Vulgar people are clear. I alone am drowsy. Vulgar people are alert. I alone am muddled.