Monday, 10 June 2013

The Magic of Language

You have the power of telepathy.  You right now are receiving my thoughts into your head.  Here I am sitting in front of my computer with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring playing in the background.  You know the song.  The song from from Disney’s Fantasia that accompanies the depiction of the formation of the earth, emergence of life and finally the rise and fall of the dinosaurs.  Did you just flashback to that scene? I just transmitted my thoughts into yours.  Through time and space, we momentarily shared the same idea.  Through the power of language, you unconsciously allowed me to enter your brain.  You can’t help but to continue to read on.  You can’t help but continue to receiving my messages and ideas.  
Remember this?

We are so ingrained into the system of language that we don’t even see squiggles of ink.  We see the title of a book or a Mcdonald's logo.  Only when we look at the writing of another language do we objectively see the complex symbolism of language.  We can demonstrate what Chinese sounds like, (politically incorrect mind you) in gibberish but we can’t even begin to say what english sounds like.  Chinese sounds to english speakers exactly how it sounds.  But when english speakers hear English, we don’t hear objective squawking of apes, we hear how our roommate’s day was.  To realize the real nature of language is to understand how magical it really is.  When people put more “magical” meaning into language is to demean its tangible and utterly fantastic value.

Swear words for example.  People who get offended by swear words are under the control of the operating system of culture and language.  To them words are no longer symbolic transfers of ideas and information, they contain some sort of intrinsic power within them.  They are so contained within the constructed system of cultural reality, that words are agents within the system.  Symbols have become entities with agency.  The orally produced sound wave that sounds like “Fuck” has a negative energy that should not be uttered.  As children, in school we are taught that particular sounds made with our mouths are inherently bad no matter the context.  We are taught to buy into culture as a part of our identity, and with that purchase comes it’s language.

The paradox of being taught to take language so seriously is that it handicaps the ability to holistically understand the wonderful tool that it is.  If we learn that language is just the ability to exchange symbolic noises, we can learn to take control of it and get rid of the power it has over us.  If we can understand the underlying code of how language functions, we can hack it to use it to its full potential.  I don’t understand any language other than english, but I could theorize that learning to look objectively at your own language would be a key at understanding another.

But we can also use people’s submission to the program of language to our advantage.  I love swear words, but only because their reactionary qualities on people.  Since swear words have so much of an emotional effect on people, they can be used to catch people’s attention.  Fuck is possibly the most versatile word in the english language. It is a verbal swiss army knife.  Stand up comedians are examples of people who have perfected the art of swearing.  Many methodically insert a “Fuck” here or there, only to keep the attention of the audience.  Because people don’t usually use those kind of words in a public speech, it keeps shocking the audience into listening.  But overused, the jig is up and people realize that you’re only using it for shock value.

Its almost as if people are harmed emotionally by a verbal symbol just like a vampire is physically harmed by the symbol of a crucifix.  When someone puts a magical power on the word “fuck” in itself, it automatically devalues the meaning of other words such as “cat”.  When we should realize that “Fuck” and “Cat” are on a level playing field of value.


I just telepathically transferred an imagine of a small furry creature into your mind.  That fact in itself should inspire awe

I believe the feeling of being offended by language is the feeling of being in existential crisis.  We all live inside the ideas of humanity. And so, It is a very bad idea to build an identity on the ideas of other people.  An Identity composed of your gender, race, nationality, religion, wealth, tribe ect, is a house of cards.  Because people get offended by language when a person’s identity is based on cultural ideas.  And so, some people are willing to kill for these ideas when they get offended.  Why is this?  Why is it that people act physically hurt when they are offended by language?  

I speculate the willingness to end the physical life of other people for the sake of ideas is because contradicting ideas literally threaten their existence. Let me demonstrate this by using an example objective to us “westerners”.  A Tutsi is willing to kill a Hutu because a Tutsi has been raised in a tribal environment.  From birth, the Tutsi has built a great deal of his identity on the idea that he is a Tutsi.  It has been communicated to him by other people that he is to identify himself with the cultural label “Tutsi”.  If I were to ask a Tutsi in 1994 to write a paragraph of who he is, I would guess that he would write the word “Tutsi” somewhere in the first two sentences.  The problem is that there is a neighboring group of people who similarly identify as “Hutu”.  When a Tutsi looks at a Hutu, he sees an entity that existentially threatens everything that makes him feel alive.  Because a Hutu is a being that claims to be in existence, alive and conscious.  Well then, what the hell does it mean to exist?  This other being must be a liar and an imposter.  He is a thing that isn’t like you at all.  It makes him much easier to destroy in an act of genocide doesn't it?

I am obviously ignoring the history of drawn out conflict in Rwanda but the point is that the tribal identity is extremely fragile.  The reason is because the identity is based on essentially a name alone.  A group name identity is defined by an arbitrary string of letters or mouth noises.  The only thing needed to contradict that group’s existence is the the appearance of another group of beings who are defined by another arbitrary word or mouth noise.  Tribal identities are built on simple ideas, and so when you cause a contradiction to an idea, you are deleting a part of their perceived sense of self.

Religion will exist as long as people are terrified of their own consciousness.  Organized religion provides an easy solution to that existential crisis that all humans must experience.  In religion the reasons for your existence are provided as well as a great sense of belonging   When a religion based on ideas regarding the universe meets another, a huge existential contradiction appears.  The religions are based on dogmas and scriptures and so the only way to solve the crisis of existence is to wipe out the idea that nullifies the idea that defines the religion.  Sometimes the only way to do this is to kill the person that defines himself by the contradicting idea.     

The thing that makes scriptural religion so incredibly confounding to me is the incredible misunderstanding of what the purpose of language actually is.  The religious may not understand what a fragile dance language and communication is.  The Christian religion uses texts that have been written by an unknown amount of people, translated from a number of different languages from linguistic eras long past.  When people have trouble even truly understanding each other in face to face conversation, how can we even begin to pretend to understand what scripture is attempting to convey?  Can anyone from the 21st century pick up a raw copy of Hamlet and truly understand what Shakespeare was trying to say?  Shakespeare wrote in ENGLISH not Hebrew.  Shakespeare has not been translated into other languages and still the text is barely understandable to me.  Christianity teaches that The Bible is all that is needed for understanding the total truth of the universe.  The only thing modern Christians can do is interpret the scripture which has been interpreted by other people which has been interpreted by other people, hence the wide variety of interpretations.  Modern Christianity is nothing but the result of a centuries long game of telephone.              

Perhaps the reason many intellectuals are considered typically shy and stumble over their words, is because they better understand the real value of language.  To the intellectual, Saying something unintended is a cardinal sin.  To have someone else interpret exactly as intended is something that is of great importance.  Personally I detest forms of interpersonal communication that is text only.  So much of our meaning, context and emotion is locked inside the codes of conscious and unconscious visual body language.  Looking introspectively, probably the things that have ever caused me the most stressful anxiety is the feeling of not being able to express myself properly.  Times when I have felt the most heartbroken or guilty are times when people have failed to expect or express the correct response to very powerful emotions.  When people have opened their hearts to me, I have miscommunicated by not giving clear indications of not being romantically interested.  I consider “leading someone on” possibly one of the worst things someone can do in a relationship.  The reason simply being that it causes a kind of existential crisis.  If I ask someone out and I get rejected, it makes me feel alone in a sea of emotions.  The only reason I thought to ask them out was because I thought the feelings were mutual.  Its not the rejection that hurts.  What hurts is the fact that emotions have been miscommunicated.  Deliberate miscommunication is obviously more egregious than unconsciously doing so.  But even when accidental, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the fragility and importance of honest communication.   

If I am to follow the life philosophy of the “Coded Universe” or “life as a video game”, language is a system to be hacked.  I am going to make it one of my immediate life objectives to master of the code of language.  Perhaps those with the phenomena of charisma are people who have been naturally gifted with the communication hacker ability.  But certainly unless you have an intellectual disability, it can be mastered to a certain extent.  If I am to believe that we are approaching a future that is made of human language and imagination, I must master this ability.  If we are going to live inside each other’s imaginations, I must get used to having my mind wide open.  I have to let go of whatever my ego is attempting to protect.  How can I progress into the future without giving up what will be inevitably public information?  Keeping secrets is useless if everyone is being honest and has good intentions.

“To belong” means the feeling of shared experience between a group of people.  To belong to a group is to be linked by strings of easily flowing and open language.  The more emotional the communication, the deeper the connection.  Emotion being possibly the most important part of the human experience.  The reason you feel like you’re the most yourself when you’re with your best friends, lover, or family is because there are no barriers in the flow of information.  You are able to easily express the deepest feelings of being alive in very specific language.  We are able to express the experience of life with each other.  If we don’t belong, we live on an island of existence.  This is what I consider to be what we call love.  The existence of an unfettered torrent of communication flowing between conscious beings.

The beautiful thing about being alive is that nothing other than death can contradict the existence of your experience.  Nothing can cause you an existential crisis if you chose to live moment to moment.  Soak in the present moment, because it is really the only thing that you can prove 100% to exist.  Cultural existences are based only on ideas and words.  Ideas and words can, by definition be contradicted.  Every fact that science can prove can be conceivably contradicted.  The essence of science is the principle that ideas that build a blueprint of the universe are contradicted and rewritten   Things such as the theory of evolution can be conceivably contradicted and disproven.  By the definition of science the theory of evolution can never be 100% proven.  So even if you base your existence on science, you are only basing it on an incomplete sketch of reality.  If you don’t include the mindfulness of experience, there remains a possibility for a crisis of existence.  Try not to base your identity on the truth of what you experience.  Instead base your sense of existence and identity on the fact that you experience something at all.

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