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    Administrator Cara's Avatar
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    Default Considering Language

    This is a thread to consider and think about language.

    Language has many different aspects, it might be considered as:
    * a tool of thought,
    * a means of communication,
    * a way to express oneself,
    * a system of logic,
    * a method of representation,
    * a set of symbols,
    * the expression of a culture,
    * a device to store ideas,
    * a way to capture experience and feelings,
    * a technique to persuade,
    * a pattern of interaction,
    ... and many more things.

    As someone who loves to read and who writes quite a bit (jottings, notes, journals, poems, ...), I find language entrancing, rich, complex and fascinating. It has incedidle power and at the same time it can be incredibly limiting, confining, and restricting. It can objectify and distance or bring something unknown alive in a mind.

    It’s a remarkable thing.

    Language can also embody history. Searching for the history of a word or an expression can reveal the migration and changes of ideas, cultures and people over time and place. The origin of a word can reveal a treasure chest of meanings both accumulated and carved away over time.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Excellent! So to kick off, here's maybe an aphorism to consider. (Think about it, or maybe talk about it!)
    We don't talk the way we think. We think the way we talk.

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Love these sentiments by Percy Shelley (1792-1822), in his work ‘a defence of poetry’, they seem very pertinent to our current age...
    ...the present state of the cultivation of poetry, and a defence of the attempt to idealize the modern forms of manners and opinions, and compel them into a subordination to the imaginative and creative faculty. For the literature of England, an energetic development of which has ever preceded or accompanied a great and free development of the national will, has arisen as it were from a new birth.

    In spite of the low - thoughted envy which would undervalue contemporary merit, our own will be a memorable age in intellectual achievements, and we live among such philosophers and poets as surpass beyond comparison any who have appeared since the last national struggle for civil and religious liberty. The most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution, is poetry. At such periods there is an accumulation of the power of communicating and receiving intense and impassioned conceptions respecting man and nature.

    The person in whom this power resides, may often, as far as regards many portions of their nature, have little apparent correspondence with that spirit of good of which they are the ministers. But even whilst they deny and abjure, they are yet compelled to serve, that power which is seated on the throne of their own soul. It is impossible to read the compositions of the most celebrated writers of the present day without being startled with the electric life which burns within their words. They measure the circumference and sound the depths of human nature with a comprehensive and all penetrating spirit, and they are themselves perhaps the most sincerely astonished at its manifestations; for it is less their spirit than the spirit of the age. Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world
    .
    This last section highlighted in red always gives me goosebumps.

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Jayke, that reminds me of a quote by Lenore Kandel.

    "When a society becomes afraid of its poets, it is afraid of itself."

    I love poetry by the way.
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone when we are uncool." From the movie "Almost Famous""l "Let yourself stand cool and composed before a million universes." Walt Whitman

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    'hierophant': from French - hieros + phainein = to show, A Greek priest of Eleusinian mysteries, advocate, expositor

    unknown by spellcheck

    noted

    While we are on this plane, words are what unite us. It is important to be precise, sometimes it is impossible to be accurate...
    Forget about it

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Valerie Villars (here)
    I love poetry by the way.
    Any particular favourite poets?

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    With regards to poetry, I have come across a view of Proto-Indo European which suggests this language was not a "refinement of caveman grunts", but, itself, was either poetry, or meant to be sung.

    Of course, that cannot really be proved one way or the other, but it's kind of how I would like to see "all" language used. If we think the way we talk, if the things we said were all cheers and invocations of something superb, we would be in a different state than most of us are now.

    This is the opposite of Big Boss who walks into a room and everyone's throat feels like they're being choked.

    I really have an issue about this, I feel as if any type of harmful speech is a moral crime, and the problem is, since it's not an actual crime, the people who do it cannot be stopped.

    Almost any type of beneficial speech is really a blessing. Although speech is not the only form of language, I would say there is something about it that is incredibly more powerful than, for instance, this page.

    I haven't personally seen the results, but Brown University has done a Neurolinguistic study on members of Maitreya Gompa in Upper Mustang near the Nepal-Tibet border. Part of what is used in mantra is really just the alphabet, breaking down speech into its basic components, and taking a really close look at how words are formed, how speech affects consciousness.

    There are a few kinds of animals here and I find no problem telling them words that would, say, get one fired from work, but, because I say it in a nice way, they schmooze on me. I also give them mantra to give them life avoiding rebirth in a lower state, and so this makes it a specific piece of language used in a way that I can observe affecting consciousness, and, there is definitely something to it depending on skill.

    The mouth is like the brain, it has basically two choices, heaven or hell. But it seems to me if you don't declare a heavenly choice with some kind of sacred speech, invocation, verse, etc., then it is only lukewarm and will get erased. I suppose most people feel awkward about singing and are not very good at it, and why places with traditional village folk music have something very valuable and I hope they do not all get whitewashed.

    Speech as sound blends into music, and, as a musical type, I am unable to understand non-musical personalities. I don't get it. I find that I am able to remove the inner, automatic mental voice and replace it with either sound, or, I guess, geometry. One's head does tend to repeat what it perceives as one's own voice. The actual one, and the subliminal one, are linked, and I suppose it is a matter of control. Most of the readership here probably has a fair amount of clarity, but it seems to me that many ordinary people have hundreds if not thousands of mental shells placing serious pressure on the actual and subliminal voices, and since I, at least, relatively have few, there is some kind of palpable difference like between fog and dew.

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    If I did not know who you are, in terms of your posting, I would not understand what you are saying.

    But I do, so I do.

    I often sing my words. I sing to my lover and I sing to my cat. Every day, too. I just sing my words instead of talking.

    "Pussy cat, pussy cat, I love you. Yes I do. I really do." That one works for both of my main significant others...
    Forget about it

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Ernie Nemeth (here)
    I often sing my words. I sing to my lover and I sing to my cat. Every day, too. I just sing my words instead of talking.

    "Pussy cat, pussy cat, I love you. Yes I do. I really do." That one works for both of my main significant others...
    Very nice and very apt.

    Last edited by Peter UK; 25th October 2019 at 21:21.

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    And on that note Peter, my favorite poets are musicians, Shakespeare and Walt Whitman.
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone when we are uncool." From the movie "Almost Famous""l "Let yourself stand cool and composed before a million universes." Walt Whitman

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Valerie Villars (here)
    my favorite poets are musicians, Shakespeare and Walt Whitman.
    Okay we will continue to make merry here.


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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Excellent! So to kick off, here's maybe an aphorism to consider. (Think about it, or maybe talk about it!)
    We don't talk the way we think. We think the way we talk.
    Bill asked an interesting question about the intertwining of language and thought.

    Here's Wilhelm von Humboldt (a Prussian philosopher, linguist, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin)

    Quote "Man lives with his objects chiefly - in fact, since he is feeling and acting depends on his perceptions, one may say exclusively - as language presents them to him. By the same process whereby he spins language out of his own being, he ensnares himself in it; and each language draws a magic circle round the people to which it belongs, a circle from which there is no escape save by stepping out of it into another."
    Quoted in "Language and Myth", Ernst Cassirer (here: https://archive.org/details/ErnstCas...anguageAndMyth)

    ~~~~

    Quote Posted by shaberon (here)
    With regards to poetry, I have come across a view of Proto-Indo European which suggests this language was not a "refinement of caveman grunts", but, itself, was either poetry, or meant to be sung.

    Of course, that cannot really be proved one way or the other, but it's kind of how I would like to see "all" language used. If we think the way we talk, if the things we said were all cheers and invocations of something superb, we would be in a different state than most of us are now.

    This is the opposite of Big Boss who walks into a room and everyone's throat feels like they're being choked.

    I really have an issue about this, I feel as if any type of harmful speech is a moral crime, and the problem is, since it's not an actual crime, the people who do it cannot be stopped.

    Almost any type of beneficial speech is really a blessing. Although speech is not the only form of language, I would say there is something about it that is incredibly more powerful than, for instance, this page.

    I haven't personally seen the results, but Brown University has done a Neurolinguistic study on members of Maitreya Gompa in Upper Mustang near the Nepal-Tibet border. Part of what is used in mantra is really just the alphabet, breaking down speech into its basic components, and taking a really close look at how words are formed, how speech affects consciousness.

    There are a few kinds of animals here and I find no problem telling them words that would, say, get one fired from work, but, because I say it in a nice way, they schmooze on me. I also give them mantra to give them life avoiding rebirth in a lower state, and so this makes it a specific piece of language used in a way that I can observe affecting consciousness, and, there is definitely something to it depending on skill.

    The mouth is like the brain, it has basically two choices, heaven or hell. But it seems to me if you don't declare a heavenly choice with some kind of sacred speech, invocation, verse, etc., then it is only lukewarm and will get erased. I suppose most people feel awkward about singing and are not very good at it, and why places with traditional village folk music have something very valuable and I hope they do not all get whitewashed.

    Speech as sound blends into music, and, as a musical type, I am unable to understand non-musical personalities. I don't get it. I find that I am able to remove the inner, automatic mental voice and replace it with either sound, or, I guess, geometry. One's head does tend to repeat what it perceives as one's own voice. The actual one, and the subliminal one, are linked, and I suppose it is a matter of control. Most of the readership here probably has a fair amount of clarity, but it seems to me that many ordinary people have hundreds if not thousands of mental shells placing serious pressure on the actual and subliminal voices, and since I, at least, relatively have few, there is some kind of palpable difference like between fog and dew.
    I heard on a podcast (apologies, I can't remember which one) that there are some who propose that communication was originally sung, not spoken.

    Up until I was in my 30s, I had a really difficult time with singing - although I can sing, when I tried to do it under any kind of attention, my voice would simply disappear. When I "found my singing voice" - I also found I was able to say things more directly and clearly, and give a more forthright opinion.

    ~~~~

    In Leonard Bernstein's Harvard Lectures, The Unanswered Question, he explores some ideas about language and music. Lecture number two looks at a grammar of language (he's using Chomsky's theories here) and suggests a similar grammar for music.

    Here is lecture 2 (the whole set of lectures is very interesting):
    Last edited by Cara; 26th October 2019 at 08:49.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Back in the day, Catholics used to sing all the words to the ceremony. There was no spoken word, everyone sang. Only the sermon from the bible was spoken - in latin...

    That's all gone now.
    Forget about it

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    When I "found my singing voice" - I also found I was able to say things more directly and clearly, and give a more forthright opinion.
    That's pretty much what I mean by "power". You generate a skill which has a direct impact on others in terms of consciousness. It is hard to say exactly what it is, but "singing voice" is not "bicycle", for some reason it is in its own category.

    Once you know how it works, then, you also understand the opposite, how it fails, or how a lack of application on your part makes it weak or ineffective.


    von Humboldt has somewhat paraphrased mantra practice:

    "Man lives with his objects chiefly - in fact, since he is feeling and acting depends on his perceptions, one may say exclusively - as language presents them to him. By the same process whereby he spins language out of his own being, he ensnares himself in it; and each language draws a magic circle round the people to which it belongs, a circle from which there is no escape save by stepping out of it into another."

    What he is saying figuratively or perhaps allusively seems pretty close to the conscious fact of leaving the mundane or "worldly circle" to produce another residence. The snare spinning does not operate there. Otherwise you would be moving to an apparently different worldly circle.

    It seems like the snare is often an addiction. Dependency on ego or something like that. We call it craving an established "I". And then from the view of clarity, the thing is really a sin.

    If we could find a deaf from birth person, they perhaps may not have developed the same kind of linguistic snare, but they could still grasp for an ego. So the two are not necessarily identical, but in a normal person, probably functionally inseparable.

    Without the sound component of language, there could be the planet of tree people that take a hundred years to wave hello. Here, though, I think we are in a kind of magnetic tug between snares and non-snares particularly made of language.

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    This is a thread to consider and think about language.

    Language has many different aspects, it might be considered as:
    * a tool of thought,
    * a means of communication,
    * a way to express oneself,
    * a system of logic,
    * a method of representation,
    * a set of symbols,
    * the expression of a culture,
    * a device to store ideas,
    * a way to capture experience and feelings,
    * a technique to persuade,
    * a pattern of interaction,
    ... and many more things.

    As someone who loves to read and who writes quite a bit (jottings, notes, journals, poems, ...), I find language entrancing, rich, complex and fascinating. It has incedidle power and at the same time it can be incredibly limiting, confining, and restricting. It can objectify and distance or bring something unknown alive in a mind.

    It’s a remarkable thing.

    Language can also embody history. Searching for the history of a word or an expression can reveal the migration and changes of ideas, cultures and people over time and place. The origin of a word can reveal a treasure chest of meanings both accumulated and carved away over time.
    This is interesting to me, because I am always working towards inviting literate people to consider the WWW as a vast publishing medium, which might sound a little obvious, but everywhere I look the Web is being trivialised and denigrated, being made out to be something harmful and uncomfortable, toxic even.
    We must first understand that language, being the formal expression of human communication is THE means for our species to differentiate itself from the purely 'animal' dimension.
    We take our languages and our communications very much for granted.
    However, just stopping ourselves for one minute to consider it: Nothing that has taken place, and will take place in our human world, across our different societies would be even possible unless we can communicate.
    This is rather like one of those obvious truths which seems so obvious to us, that we dismiss it as being 'common sense'.
    Always, it is this region of 'common sense' that reveals the most interesting aspects of our human nature.
    Because certain things are completely accepted, they are the strongest indicators as to how we think.
    Now, the WWW is not just a clever invention, it is the most significant invention since the Printing Press in terms of amplifying our intelligence, and enabling vast new forms of our human social intentions to be made tangible.
    The World Wide Web is language enhanced into almost God-like power.
    First there was the 'Word', and the Word was made flesh, then we took the word and built entirely new worlds.
    I think we need to slow down, just a little, and consider just what this WWW is all about, and this I see as being one of my intentions, to clarify and enable some people to fully understand the true scope, and scale of this WWW. If you are interested with language, and how 'the limits of my language are the limits of my world' (Thank you Wittgenstein) then you are able to see just how much further out our world has been pushed by the original work of Tim Berners-Lee.
    For me, the world has been utterly changed via the emergence of the Web since 1990, we see this all around us, but many people are still not understanding the full implications.
    The World Wide Web is our global publishing house. If you seek to publish and develop your reach: https://www.webstruct.xyz

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    I was thinking about nomenclature recently.

    I thought that in many circumstances the only difference between a lay person and a professional is the job-related nomenclature. I can keep up with scientific jargon to a point but I have to ask what is meant by this and that concatenated word. This slows down the conversation. I believe this is what students pay the big money to universities for - to learn the nomenclature of the respective disciplines. The ideas, in most cases, are simple enough for anyone to grasp. But the related words, studies and advances make discussion with a non-trained individual problematic. It is as if professions speak a very specific dialect that others do not know.

    Language is a social construct. It relies on agreement and shared values.

    Take for example the use of language by the youth of today. They can hardly string a proper sentence together on a piece of paper with plenty of lead time, let alone try and communicate in real time (ie. have a real conversation). Their language is truncated, spoken in phrases not sentences. And their vocabulary is atrocious.

    Language requires intelligence. It requires a broad base of knowledge. The broader the base the wider the understanding and the more comprehensive the command of the language.

    Proper communication involves other than spoken words. It is these hints and clues that make true communication possible. To understand a sentence uttered by a person, the entire context of the situation must be considered because clues to the non-verbal aspect of communication often comes from the actual situation or event where the communication takes place.

    The exact same sentence can have an entirely different meaning depending on context.

    Language needs structure. It needs a framework of common experience upon which to draw equivalents and determine meaning. Nomenclature is this 'common experience' that includes topic specific language, previously accepted facts, and indecipherable communication privy to only the indictrinated.
    Forget about it

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Thank you Mike and Ernie, some very interesting musings. A few snippets that particularly struck me:

    Quote Posted by Mike Gorman (here)
    ... We take our languages and our communications very much for granted.
    However, just stopping ourselves for one minute to consider it: Nothing that has taken place, and will take place in our human world, across our different societies would be even possible unless we can communicate.
    ...

    The World Wide Web is language enhanced into almost God-like power.
    ...
    I think we need to slow down, just a little, and consider just what this WWW is all about...
    That's an interesting way of looking at the web - a kind of supercharged language. I agree: I don't think we realise how significantly it may shape - and has already shaped - who and what we are.


    Quote Posted by Ernie Nemeth (here)
    ...I thought that in many circumstances the only difference between a lay person and a professional is the job-related nomenclature. ... I believe this is what students pay the big money to universities for - to learn the nomenclature of the respective disciplines. ...

    Language is a social construct. It relies on agreement and shared values.

    Take for example the use of language by the youth of today. ... Their language is truncated, spoken in phrases not sentences. And their vocabulary is atrocious.

    ...

    Language ... needs a framework of common experience upon which to draw equivalents and determine meaning. Nomenclature is this 'common experience' that includes topic specific language, previously accepted facts, and indecipherable communication privy to only the indoctrinated.
    This prompts me to think about how eagerly some people quickly adopt and use the latest technology jargon words without knowing what the meaning is. It's an interesting type of social signalling, almost as if they're saying: "I am up to date, I know all about the latest and best".

    Maybe a similar mechanism underlies the virtue-signalling tweets and Facebook posts each time there is some kind of tragedy or unhappy event?
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    This is an interesting article written by Paul Kingsnorth about language and its power and influence. His description of the current use of language in the political environment is rather perceptive.

    Here he is narrating the article:
    https://emergencemagazine.org/app/up...-05-08_WEB.mp3

    And here is the text:
    Quote The Language of the Master
    by Paul Kingsnorth

    What defines a human? What is the essence of what we are?

    Perhaps it is the ability, and the desire, to ask questions like that.

    At some level, the “culture” inhabited by people like us—people who read, who write, who think, who worry, who accept these questions as valid—is a culture of separation; an orthodoxy of subject and object. Something separates “us” from “them,” where “us” is Homo sapiens, a species of upright hominid, and “them” is every other living being that inhabits this living Earth. What is the source of this separation? Is it God? Were we created to be different, to be masters, or stewards? Did we “evolve” our differences? Why do we think we are different, anyway? Is it because we are the only species that writes essays?

    These are circular questions. Like Earth and its seasons, they never stop turning.

    What is the dividing line between us and them? Is there one at all? In one sense, no. We are a primate species, virtually genetically identical to our closest hominid relative, the chimpanzee. We share many of their behavioral characteristics, and have much in common with other mammals, with all life. We are born, we die, we compete, we cooperate, we reproduce, and the patterns in which we do all of these things are clearly predictable from our evolutionary history.

    Yet we are, at the same time, kidding ourselves with this sort of talk. We are not just another species of ape, and even those, like myself, who would like to think so—who would like to believe that some return might be possible—know that it is not. We are apart. The very fact of that apartness is what has, amongst other things, reduced the numbers of other apes to critical levels and changed the biosphere of the planet itself. Something makes humans different: makes us so all-dominating, so all-consuming, that in the eyeblink of time in which our species has been around—a mere 300,000 years, out of the 4.6 billion that Earth has existed—we have engineered a planetary shift bigger than anything seen in eons, we have done so knowingly, and we still, despite all we know, refuse to stop.

    What is it that gives us this power? Fire? Tools? Weapons? Or the thing that is each of these, and all of them at once: language?

    Language is both our most effective tool and our most powerful weapon. If you want to see how powerful this weapon is, look around. A simple conversation can be a skirmish: setting out positions, pushing back and forth, testing the ground. Most obviously, the way we use language when we disagree is often militarized; and when the issues under discussion are existential, the linguistic warfare can break out into the open.

    In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” written in 1946, George Orwell explains how language is “an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.” Writing soon after the defeat of fascism, but with communism now aggressively on the ascendant and clashing with the liberal-capitalist West, Orwell had plenty of opportunities to study how language was used dishonestly to fight political and cultural wars, and how the winners would use the opportunity to rewrite the speech patterns—and thus the ways of seeing—of the losers. Since the words we use reflect our worldview, controlling language helps control the picture that we see of the world.

    Nothing much changes. In the riven political and cultural atmosphere of today’s Anglophone West, we don’t have to look far to see the use of language tied up in cultural and political battles. Most obviously, it is seen in the daily struggle to use words to pin down an opponent. Define the terms that others must use, and you already have the upper hand. If you want to caricature the arguments of those who speak out against the current liberal-capitalist consensus, for example, you call them “populists.” What does this mean? Nobody agrees. But it is an effective way of diminishing the worldview of your opponents, or simply miring them in argument or denial.

    Similarly, and usually from another perspective, accusing your opponents of being “politically correct”—another label that few people ever consciously apply to themselves—has a similar effect. If you’re feeling more aggressive—or simply losing the argument—you might get out the big guns. Your opponent may become a “snowflake” or a “social justice warrior,” a “hater” or a “fascist.” By this point, war has broken out into the open. Now, people are not arguing about issues—about ideas, proposals, feelings, approaches—they are trading in which insult is most likely to stick. In the age of easy-click social media outrage, these kinds of linguistic skirmishes have a depressing, routine familiarity.

    Dishonest use of language is one way of using words as a weapon. Another is designing, and enforcing, linguistic—and thus, cultural—orthodoxy. This kind of language policing was an open feature of state communism, in which the incorrect use of, or resistance to, officially-approved terminologies could lead to a show trial and even death—a situation memorialized by Orwell through his invention of “Newspeak” for his novel 1984.

    But while language—and thus, thought—policing is most obvious in totalitarian regimes, some form of it goes on in every culture. Language policing is a timeless method by which a cultural or political elite establishes and holds on to power. The ideology of that elite may vary—communist or fascist, progressive or conservative—but their enthusiasm for telling the masses how to use language is never dimmed.

    In Britain a century ago, for example, there were clear linguistic boundaries which writers could not cross if they did not want to see their books banned or their reputations damaged, and the markers for what was “decent” public language were clear and enforced. What today would be regarded as garden-variety swearing was then regarded as career-ending obscenity. In Britain today, as across much of the Western world, these conservative boundaries have dissolved with the culture that birthed them, but expression is not free. They have simply been replaced by a new form of linguistic correctness, maintained by a new elite, which is now not traditionalist or conservative but leftist and liberal.

    Today there exists an unofficial political and cultural line, a heavily-policed linguistic orthodoxy which all of us know we cannot challenge without a penalty. The punishments for crossing this line—for expressing an unorthodox opinion, using incorrect vocabulary, or challenging those who police the orthodoxy—can range from public abuse on social media all the way to losing jobs, livelihoods, and reputations. The chances are that if you pop over to your Twitter feed right now, you will see somebody getting this treatment.

    These are the swamps into which our linguistic weapons have sunk us. Language is used dishonestly across shifting political and cultural spectrums to disguise intentions and to make excuses for tyranny of both mind and body. What ought to be our most glorious tool—symbolic thought, abstracted and represented in words—has become a crude weapon of warfare. Why?

    I AM A WRITER, but it has taken me a long time to circle around, in my life and work, to this question. What is language? What is written language, especially? For it is writing that defines our use of language in the modern age. We see writing and reading—“literacy,” as we call it—as one of the basic necessities of life. Few people throughout history have been able to read or write, but across the world now, literacy is promoted as an unquestionable good. We measure its progress obsessively and work to extend its reach.

    But the ability to read and write is also the ability to abstract. You are running your eyes right now across some marks on a screen. Why? Because they convey meaning, and that meaning is conveyed through a shared agreement about abstraction. You and I agree on what meaning a conceptual term like “abstraction,” or indeed, “conceptual,” conveys. I use a word, these marks convey that word to you, and you hopefully understand me. It should be clear already how much scope for confusion this causes. How do I know that my “abstraction” is the same as yours? I don’t. I can only do what I have trained myself to do over my long years as a writer: use these symbols in the best combination I can and hope for the best. In doing so, I struggle to convey the depth and meaning of my real, embodied human experience in terms which, at best, are weirdly abstracted from actual life.

    Most humans throughout history would barely have understood the purpose of staring immobile at some marks on paper or glowing screen. The notion that they could help anyone to understand the complexity of lived reality would have seemed absurd; as it still does to many. Sometimes writers can forget how pointless, or just baffling, writing for a living seems to many people. We can forget how much we deal in abstraction. We can confuse these words for the reality they are intended to convey. This confusion—of the signifier and the signified, the original reality and its distilled essence—is one of the reasons we end up with language wars. We think, at some level, that if we can control the signifier, then that control will bleed out into reality. We think that using our symbols to define reality will change the nature of reality itself.

    Words are not real. I think we have forgotten this. In a culture that increasingly deals with abstracts, it is a dangerous form of forgetting.

    The cultural ecologist David Abram, in his book The Spell of the Sensuous, claims to have identified the moment when written language jumped the boundary from rootedness to abstraction. The building blocks of Semitic written language—the aleph-beth—he explains, were a series of characters each based on a consonant in spoken language. There were twenty-two of them, and with their advent “a new distance opens between human culture and the rest of nature.” Why? Because, unlike every written language before it (Egyptian hieroglyphics perhaps being the best-known example), the aleph-beth—which later became, via the Greeks, our own alphabet—was made up of written characters which no longer directly represented an actual thing out in the real world.

    The original letter A, writes Abram, may once have represented the shape of an ox’s head; O may have been an eye; Q the back end and tail of a monkey. But once the Semites got hold of them, turned them into abstract symbols, and wrote them down—with the Greeks later finishing the job—the link between culture and nature was finally lost. Written language was no longer visually tied to the world of physical, real, naturally-occurring things. Letters were now only marks, signifying nothing but their own internal meaning. Humans could speak to other humans in a code understood by, and inspired by, only themselves. Language had become internalized. It no longer represented the forms of the world around them. It represented only what they saw in their minds.

    The question then became: what kind of minds?
    From: https://emergencemagazine.org/story/...of-the-master/
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Excellent! So to kick off, here's maybe an aphorism to consider. (Think about it, or maybe talk about it!)
    We don't talk the way we think. We think the way we talk.
    Interesting to ponder....
    I tend to disagree, but not because I feel like I am talking the way I think.
    I just think I definitely absolutely most certainly do NOT think the way I talk

    EDIT: It's certainly confusing, really makes me wonder what I'd think like if I never had any words

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    Default Re: Considering Language

    Like a bird on the wire
    Like a drunk in a midnight choir
    I have tried in my way to be free


    Leonard Cohen

    This is how I feel about beautiful lyrics. They free me. Words, used with precision, grace and flourish and set to music give me permission to feel the depths of emotion. Otherwise I am too distanced, too trapped in thought alone.

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