Friday, July 02, 2010


Words! A puny arrangement of letters. Words! Sounds that link to other sounds that are thereby supposed to link to something that dwells downward within us. Words! Mere utterings of disgust and glory that somehow give a facile sense of self to the otherwise shifting currents of our psyche, that flowing river from which we can not ever cease to drown slowly but certainly as the banks of the current of our lives sit impassively watching.

Another arrangement of meaning needs somehow to be certified by the Human Enforcement Division of the Spiritual Faculty, because words are not enough. Words are futile. Words erect barriers against the protests that lodge within our souls like houseguests who refuse to leave an agreeable arrangement. Within our stomachs dwell instincts and outrages that need to be unleashed, but the closest compromise we can concoct with the darker forces within is this bargain of vowels and verbs, consonants and connecting phrases, poor substitutes indeed for the grammar of the heart that demands some form of empathy and instead is left with slogans and sales pitches. A pity, too, that I need words to express that which cannot be expressed. I am forced to use a paper and pen, a keyboard and screen, to rage against the limits of the psyche. Would that music suffice as a form of communication, perhaps we could all hum a little ditty that would put Balzac to shame.

Even learning another language does little alleviate such anxieties, for upon such education one is gradually made aware of the prisons that are erected in the linguistic territories of all states, not merely one's own. Everything is approximate. There is no 'rock', 'whale' or 'gadget', only sounds and symbols that conspire to give us a shadowy facsimile of the original. To study another language is to delve into the mystery of language itself, but once we climb our way back through the dirt and up the rabbit hole and into the fresh blue sky of our original tongue we realize that the gig is up, the game has been rigged, the jury paid off. Multiple folds of meaning do, indeed, give us creases in our consciousness, but the end result is a paper airplane made from stronger stock that nevertheless falls from the air just as quickly as your average five-year old's attempt at foolscap aviation. What remains on the ground after the crash is merely another pile of words, different from our own, but words nevertheless, while primitive growls within us rage against the gods that leave us one step removed from the animals we secretly suspect we still are.