Tuesday, June 29, 2010


By means of linguistic descent, we dwell even deeper. Jack had his beanstalk, urging him up; we have but words, tugging us north. To where? How far into the sky? From which plateau do we leap, and where shall we peak?

If such mismanaged attempts at communication start at age one, or two, or even three, as they most certainly must, then tracing back the tangled roots of our frustrated jumps into human intercourse, face to face, word to word, tongue to tongue, can begin to seem like the naive attempts of amateur anthropoligists. For who can declare, with any degree of arrogant certainty, where the words come from? From our families, our friends, our teachers, our neighbours -- all of the constellation of aggravating grown-ups who hover around our little infantile lives like bees around honey. We do not ask for language to be bestowed upon us like a plate of the finest meat laid at the feet of the most docile king. No. Language is hoisted upon us, a mugger in reverse slow-motion: swiping our words back to us one by one. Gently, true, but not without a considerable amount of damage done to our still forming, molding, musy little psyches.

Imagine a child torn between ten, twelve, fourteen different countries, passed from parent to parent and adult to adult, random and kin, with the ease of a basketball changing hands on the fastest of courts. One language is heard, snatched, gulped; another falls out of one's slick little hands and goes splat on the hardwood. No matter. Another will follow as surely as shit follows fart. Hundreds and thousands of words from multiple languages jammed together in the most unappetizing of stews. What would happen to an infant's mind? Would they be fluent in five or ten languages, or merely middling in many? Put another way, what would the nature of their thinking be? When one's sheer thoughts are as fluid as the most nimble of sperm than by what means can conception take root? Would thinking itself become a mere blip on the screen of their emotional psyche? Would such a child be held hostage by their emotions, feelings and flickers of anger and passion that have no linguistic counterpart?

Words are all that we have. So binding are they! Futile and senseless our lips can seem to be. Sounds strung together by the tongue and the teeth and the constant of spit. Somehow we are expected to forge a life of togetherness (ha!), a link between you and me based on how much saliva we manage not to expend while profession our passion and devotion to each other. Even as these words are typed my lips are tight, prim, closed. No sound is being emitted. And yet still the words come. No sounds, only words. Once again, man has found a way to tamper with the will of the gods.

Soon, in another vacant, but approaching, era, speech itself will prove unnecessary. Robotic, computerized communication will tie us together like rope on a hostage. (And the savior will be...) Children will learn to speak, but will they dive deep into the mass of their own psyche, with words as their guides, nouns as their nuances, verbs as their vectors? Or will they allow the surface of sounds to form the base of their actions?