language Some thoughts on language

  • Random Quotes
  • E-Prime: abolishing 'to be'
  • Alan Watts on nouns & things
  • Alan Watts on symbols & meaning
  • Terence Mckenna on the evolution of language
  • Terence Mckenna on visible language (vid)
  • Sanskrit: What is Maya?
  • Babel (deoxy.org)

  • Random Quotes

    You change all the lead sleeping in my head (to gold)
    as the day grows dim I hear you sing a golden hymn
    the song I've been trying to sing!
    Arcade Fire

    The only thing that you keep changing is your name,
    my love keeps growing still the same.
    Arcade Fire

    "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words,
    you can control the people who must use the words."
    Philip K. Dick

    "By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth."
    George Carlin

    "Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about."
    Benjamin Lee Whorf

    "Language helps form the limits of our reality."
    Dale Spender

    "People have murdered each other, in massive wars and guerilla actions, for many centuries, and still murder each other in the present,
    over Ideologies and Religions which, stated as propositions, appear neither true nor false to modern logicians - meaningless propositions
    that look meaningful to the linguistically naive."
    Robert Anton Wilson

    "All language reflects the prejudices of the society in which it evolved."
    Casey Miller

    "Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation."
    Angela Carter

    "I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out."
    Katherine Dunn

    "The individual's whole experience is built upon the plane of his language."
    Henri Delacroix

    "The learned fool writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but it is still nonsense."
    Benjamin Franklin

    "The Greek word for sinning means to 'miss the point;' The point is eternal life which is here and now."
    Alan Watts

    "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil."
    Plato

    "The word 'radical' derives from the Latin word for root. Therefore, if you want to get to the root of anything you must be radical.
    It is no accident that the word has now been totally demonized."
    Gore Vidal

    "Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes;
    and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of the demons."
    Aldous Huxley

    "To have another language is to possess a second soul."
    Charlemagne

    "If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world."
    Ludwig Wittgenstein

    "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."
    Rudyard Kipling

    "Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own."
    Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

    Borrowing from the Cynics, the foundation of Stoic ethics is that good lies in the state of the soul itself; in wisdom and self-control. Stoic ethics stressed the rule: "Follow where reason leads." One must therefore strive to be free of the passions (hate, fear, pain, pleasure, distress, appetite, etc.), bearing in mind that the ancient meaning of passion was "anguish" or "suffering" - somewhat different to the modern use of the word.
    from the balance page

    "Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?"
    Robin Williams

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    E-Prime

    E-Prime is abolishing all forms of the verb "to be" from the English Language.
    Why? Because nothing 'is' and everything changes.
    A conversation tends to get a lot less aggressive & retarded when you say for example 'it seems to me...' instead of 'it is'.
    When you say something 'is', it only 'is' according to you - so why not say it like it 'is' and express yourself differently?

    eg:
    1A. The electron is a wave.
    1B. The electron appears as a wave when measured with instrument-l.

    2A. The electron is a particle.
    2B. The electron appears as a particle when measured with instrument-2.

    3A. John is lethargic and unhappy.
    3B. John appears lethargic and unhappy in the office.
    etc

    Links:
    Toward understanding E-Prime by Robert Anton Wilson
    E-Prime tutorial
    detailed essay: Working with E-Prime
    Wiki Article
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    Alan Watts on 'nouns & things'

    And so what I would call a basic problem we've got to go through first, is to understand that there are no such things as things. That is to say separate things, or separate events. That that is only a way of talking. If you can understand this, you're going to have no further problems. I once asked a group of high school children 'What do you mean by a thing?' First of all, they gave me all sorts of synonyms. They said 'It's an object,' which is simply another word for a thing; it doesn't tell you anything about what you mean by a thing. Finally, a very smart girl from Italy, who was in the group, said 'a thing is a noun.' And she was quite right. A noun isn't a part of nature, it's a part of speech. There are no nouns in the physical world.
    There are no separate things in the physical world, either. The physical world is wiggly. Clouds, mountains, trees, people, are all wiggly. And only when human beings get to working on things--they build buildings in straight lines, and try to make out that the world isn't really wiggly. But here we are, sitting in this room all built out of straight lines, but each one of us is as wiggly as all get-out.

    from 'The Nature of Consciousness'

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    Alan Watts on 'symbols & meaning'

    Matter comes from the Sanskrit word 'matr' which means to measure. Lay out say the foundations say for a building, so we get to 'maya', and maya is generally translated illusion, although it also means magic, creative power.

    The word illusion, switch over, we get that from Latin and that comes from 'ludere;' to play (note from webmaster: and survives in english as 'lewd' :p). Let's pretend that we matter, haha! And so also from the root matr, you get 'mitar,' that is also to measure, you get 'meter' in Greek, 'mater' in Latin, which means mother, the mother of Buddha was called Maya. Marie, 'ma' again is the mother of Jesus, ma ma ma ma ma!

    But 'ma', you see, is a matter of form, pattern. The Chinese call the basic principle of nature 'li', and the character for 'li' means the markins in jade, the fibre in muscle, the grain in wood. So organic pattern. And that what's going on, and there's no stuff involved, what stuff is, is a pattern seen out of focus, where it becomes fuzzy, like kapok, kapok is the stuffing of a cushion, and that stuff is seen like goo, but when we examine the kapoc closely, we find structure, that's what you'll find and there never will be anything else. Crazy because it completely flouts our common sense!

    We say but surely, when philosophers beat tables that are in front of them, and they say it is there, bang, you know. It must be something that is stuff that is substantial. The only reason you can't move your hand through a table because the table is moving too fast. Haha. It's like trying to put your fingers through an electric fan, only it's going much faster than an electric fan. Anything solid is going so fast, that there is no way to get this trhough it. That's all. So you say what is it that's going so fast, well that question is based on a grammatical illusion, the grammatical illusion is that all verbs have to have subjects. Can you imagine anything more weird than the idea that a verb or an action or event, must be set into motion by a noun. A non-event or thing.

    What's the difference between a thing and an event, I can't for the life of me tell! We say this is a fist, that's a noun. What happens to it when I open my hand, this thing is unaccountably dissapeared, so I should call this a fisting, and this is a handing. It may also be a pointing. So we could devise a language such as that of the Nuku Indians, where there are no nouns, there are only verbs. Chinese is very close to that. I think the superimposition of the idea of noun and verb on the Chinese language is a western invention. I can't think of any Chinese word for a noun.

    But all those languages of Indo-European origin have nouns and verbs in them. They have agents and operations, and that's one of the basic snags when we divide the world into operations and agents, doers and doings. Then we ask such silly questions as 'who knows,' 'who does it,' what does it,' when the what that's supposed to do it is the same as the doing! You can very easily see that the whole process of the universe may be understood as process. Nobody's doing it because when you go back to doing it, you go back to the military analogy the chain of command, the boss who goes bang, and the object to base, it's a very crude idea, very unsophisticated, so if you can bear it we have suddenly eliminated a spook. And the spook was called stuff.

    from 'Symbols and Meaning'

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    Terence Mckenna on the evolution of language

    Part of what makes it difficult for us to think about language clearly in english, is that this word language is used by us to mean spoken language and it also means the general class of linguistic activity as in computer language, body language, so forth and so on.

    And to think clearly about language we need to have a clear distinction between spoken language and the general syntactical organisation of reality. Language, because that is old, honeybees do it, dolphins, termites, octopi they all do it different ways, there is much of language in nature. In fact you could argue that all of nature is a linguistic enterprise because the DNA essentialy is a symbolic system. Those codons which code for protein are arbitrarily assigned, assigned in other words by convention, there is no chemical relationship between the codons and the proteins they code for - anymore than there is a relationship between an english word and the thing it intends, those are just conventionalised by probability over time. So language is deep in nature.

    What is not deep in nature, is speech, speech is as artificial as the water wheel, the bicycle pump, the tesla coil and the space shuttle. Somebody figured this out, somewhere. So well then to say this is hard to understand, this is hard to picture how it could happen. Well here's how I think how it happened. It's that, all kinds, all non-genetic behaviours, which are called - reasonably enough ethogenetic behaviours are nevertheless, they're not simply expressions of free will. They are under the control of a looser system of rules, than the genetic rules which are chemical and absolute, the ethogenetic behaviours are under the control of syntactical constraints, in other words we need to expand the concept of syntax from the rules which govern the grammer of a spoken language to the rules which govern the behaviour of any complex system.

    So for example, before speech among human beings I think it was probably very touchy feely, if you watch monkeys you see this, they touch eachother, they stroke, they grunt, they groom, they goose, they push, they do all of these things. The repertoire of this kind of behaviour if you're good at it, may be on the order of having 4 or 5000 words in your vocabulary.

    Well when we watch primates do this kind of behaviour we don't think of it as a language, but in fact it is, it's a gestural language. A couple of years ago some research was done when people took preverbal infants, and they thaught them standard american sign language before they could speak. So these little tiny children could sign pick me up, please change me, where's daddy, I'm hungry, I wanna watch tv, before they could ever utter a word. Well now what we're always told about spoken language is it's this miracle and we're genetically hardwired for it, well these experiments seem to imply we're even more genetically hardwired for standard american sign language which is something very few of us will ever learn to use, what does this mean? Well it means that the gestural capacity is deeper than the ability to verbalise and hence probably older, so I think there was a gestural language as complex as standard english probably in place before everyone uttered a word.

    What the psychedelics seem to suggest is you can get so hyped up on tryptamines that your body goes into some kind of almost convulsive shock and the normally accoustically modulated processing of language flows over into the voice box and you begin to literally articulate syntax. You begin to make a noise which is a tracking noise for this ongoing syntactical stuff that's organising gestural intent and it's like going from carving in stone to colour tv. You are a listener, it immediately transfers loyalty to this much more spectacular form of behaviour, and so it's like literally that the words burst forth full blown based on a platform of gestural syntax that have been maybe million of years in its formation, it was just this ability to redirect the energy of syntactical intent through the body, so instead of coming out of the end of the fingers, it came out of the end of the tongue flapping in the airstream and this thing happened.

    It's amazing to me that the straight linguist, if you go to an academic university and study linguistics, will teach you that language is no more than 35 to 40.000 years old. That's like yesterday, I mean: fire is half a million years, chipped flint a million and a half years, language 35.000 years old. Language is everything we are, everything we do you can't think without it, you can't do anything without it. And yet if it's that new, than what it represents is simply a technology, a form of media that squeezed out other forms of media. It's not hard to see why after all it works in the dark, that's good. It allows politics, you can make speeches to large groups of people, and it's well, it's just very portable. It's the cleanest technology ever put in place.

    When you think about it it's one of the weirdest abilities human beings exibit, when you go forward to reading you realize this is an animal in some kind of informational tizzy, I mean the idea that you would make marks in clay which signify tongue noises which signify designated objects so that these pieces of clay could be lugged hundreds of miles so that other people can reconstruct your thought by looking at these pieces of clay. This is bizarre for animal behaviour, this is absolutely, how they managed to do that?!

    From the lecture: "Into the Valley of Novelty"

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    Terence McKenna on Visible Language

    McKenna's foreshadowing of our language switching from the auditory modality to being visual.


    YT: Terence McKenna on Visible Language

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    What is Maya? (from Sanskrit)

    "...the word maya, by which this peculiar uninternal linkreality is described, is not necessarily a term of contempt, as if the world were merely an illusion to be dismissed. Maya also means art and internal linkmagic, and thus a seeming solidity evoked by divine power. But under the spell of this power, one does not feel oneself entirely a victim. However obscurely, one knows or feels that the source of this enchantment is in some roundabout way oneself - as if being alive and human were to have got oneself deliberately lost in a labyrinth."
    Alan Watts

    That which truly is not, but appears to be, is Maya. That which causes infatuation or Moha is Maya.

    Maya is an appearance. It is semblance. It is the illusory power of God.

    Maya is the illusory power of God. She is the creatrix of this universe. She projects this world for His Lila (sport). Mind, intellect, body, and senses are her forms. She is the energy or mother-aspect of the Lord.

    Just as heat is inseparable from fire, coldness from ice, Maya is inseparable from Brahman (God). It is dependent on Brahman.

    Maya has countless potencies. Solidity of stone is a power of Maya. Fluidity of water is another power of Maya. Fire is a third burning power. Air is the moving power of Maya. Ether is the void or space power of Maya.

    You know you will die, and yet you think you will live forever. This is Maya. You know that the world is full of miseries, and yet you take delight in the perishable objects and will not leave them. This is Maya. You know that the human body is made up of all sorts of impurities, flesh, bone, urine and faecal matter, and yet you rejoice in embracing it under the sway of lust. This is Maya.

    Maya causes false glittering and entraps the deluded Jivas (individual souls). She does a little electroplating work. Man is entrapped. He is caught in the wheel of birth and death.

    Maya is neither true nor false. It is truly false and falsely true. It is neither real nor unreal. It is not real like Brahman, because it disappears when one gets Knowledge. It is not unreal like a barren woman's son or the horn of hare, because its presence is felt.

    This Maya is a sort of jugglery. You are astonished so long as the juggler is not seen. As soon as the juggler is known, the results are known to be unreal; the wonder ceases at once. When you realize Brahman, the wonder of Maya's working vanishes.

    When the mesmerist hypnotises the whole audience, all people believe that the man is ascending the rope in the air. All people see that the mesmerist devours a big sword and cuts the body of a lad in the box. Even so, you are all hypnotised by Maya and Avidya (ignorance) and you take this unreal world as a solid reality. De-hypnotise yourself by getting Knowledge of Brahman. Then alone you will understand the grand jugglery of Maya.

    ("Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein)

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  • Random Quotes
  • Alan Watts on nouns & things
  • Alan Watts on symbols & meaning
  • Sanskrit: What is Maya?

    Language is a funny thing :p
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    GEORGE BUSH - HE BUGS GORE
    GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH - HUGE BERSERK REBEL WARTHOG
    RONALD WILSON REAGAN - INSANE ANGLO WARLORD
    DORMITORY - DIRTY ROOM
    EVANGELIST - EVIL'S AGENT
    PRESBYTERIAN - BEST IN PRAYER
    DESPERATION - A ROPE ENDS IT
    THE MORSE CODE - HERE COME DOTS
    SLOT MACHINES - CASH LOST IN ME
    ANIMOSITY - IS NO AMITY
    MOTHER-IN-LAW - WOMAN HITLER
    SNOOZE ALARMS - ALAS! NO MORE Z'S
    A DECIMAL POINT - I'M A DOT IN PLACE
    ELEVEN PLUS TWO - TWELVE PLUS ONE
    MADONNA LOUISE CICCONE - OCCASIONAL NUDE INCOME
    WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER