Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Inevitable Abrasive Nature of the Web of Words

the inevitable abrasive nature of the web of words:

we may think of words as something insubstantial, perhaps just images in a book, text on a screen, sounds in our heads, but consider that they might be something more tangible, an essential part of the machinery of life and the universe. any procedure or social process in life on earth requires words, words make things work.

posit that words and their languages and meanings occupy their own dimension in space, that they are something as real and varied and substantial as the material of light or sound. they are an instrument of life. all words and their meanings form a web in space, all connected to each other. the ways they are linked and the conceptual distances between different words and their meanings are something we all know intuitively. and just by thinking and using words we shape and change this web all the time.

it is unfortunate that there are bad words, just as it is unfortunate that bad things happen. again it is unfortunate that we can carelessly trigger bad thoughts in others when talking. some words or phrases inevitably conjure up negative ideas, others, though neutral in themselves, may naturally lead to bad thoughts anyway, as they are only a short distance away. when they lead to bad thoughts about the person itself, calling into question its own beliefs about self, or play on its own worst fears, such that they might be true, the sometimes abrasive nature of words and language reveals itself. we are all party to fear and pride, such is the nature of the human being.

i fear this abrasive nature of words and talk is inevitable. often it is difficult to console anyone that frightened, or to validate anyone that proud. the perfect idealized conversation requires conditions of security and jolliness and mutual interest that cannot always be met. perhaps as the other person, you can only provide at best a sense that someone is not alone, that there is the other person who cares.


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