Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On The Problem Of Language

Maybe we put too much emphasis on the phenomena of language as the only facilitator of meaningful thought. As crucial a development as language has been, it seems that wordless thought has been held captive by millennia of this arbitrary creation.Can you think without that silent voice streaming in your head? We who now communicate our minds out loud to one another in spoken words are the descendants of distant ancestors who did not do this. They could contemplate in solitude with unencumbered, wordless thought. What must this have been like? Has this languageless mind been disremembered somewhere back along our evolutionary path? Is this why the saints and mystics try to bring us back there by contemplating our own breathing and stilling the relentless stream of internal talking? Have they remembered what common folk have forgotten? OOOOooooohhmmmmmm.

Imagine what thought forms went through our ancestors brains before the invention of language? It was an astonishing stroke of fortuitous luck that the human animal became aware of its own anatomical capacity to fashion various sounds that could symbolize coherent internal thoughts that could then be audibly transferred from mind to mind.

But however marvelous it is, it is often left wanting; often too blunt an instrument to articulate the finest filigree of nuanced thought or feeling. How can we possibly relate the strange emotional surrounds in certain dreams for example? How can questions on the absolute existence or non existence of God ever be reconciled by spoken or written word? It seems that a pruden standing down is what's needed here with the ultimate questions irreducible to language; or at least admitting to its limits. Maybe wordless thought should be reinstated in the human condition when it comes to the infinitely mysterious questions.

Perhaps a definition of being human is the drive to reach. Reach like the lemurs and gibbons in the primeval forests. To reach limb to moss covered limb higher into the crowns is to be human. This is why we speak to each other. We reached out and higher up figuratively after millions of years of reaching out physically alone. We reached out of the silence and solitude of individual existence to form sounds that would come to song and poetry one day. In this way our individual loneliness was lifted a little.

But still, striving as we must, we put too much stock in the efficacy of language to figure out all the mysteries that thought contemplates. After written language became an established form in human intercourse, we came to save all these writings in great accumulating records called Bibles, Philosophical Discourses, Text Books, Qurans, Homeric Epics and such. And in time these writings became immutable truths steeped in time, unquestioned and inviolable. This time honored homage seems to me to be one of the fundamental problems in human conflict.

How can any language, spoken or written, regardless of its apparent logic, poetry or practical purpose, presume to conjugate in absolute terms, the existence or not of so profound a concept as God? It is supremely fatuous at best to even think that this is possible. Yet, this has been attempted for millennia without any definite answers and much strife and struggle for the competing versions of such ineffable questions. Perhaps in these areas the inner sanctum must remain alone in the realms of language less thought.

As positive and progressive a force language has been, it cannot and should not be depended upon to render the answers to these muses in any final form. Neither the majesties of song and poetry fable and parable in the verses of the Quran or the Bible and Torah should lead us to any final terminus on the existence or not of God. Nor should the beauties and power of an exquisite scientific theorem be expected to deduce the ultimate answers to first cause. Both of these majesties can only speak to us in a form of self realized narcissism, of the beauty and power of human creation.

Listen to Bach or Handel or Mozart- whale song, the cry of the loon, so human an expression on the stone face of the Pieta' and speak or write not of origins and universal causes then. Let the internal language stop and maybe it is the God force within that is trying to come through in the form of languageless thought.


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