Perhaps Words Are The Problem
Of the many metaphysical things I have pondered upon in the last
five or so years, one is the enigma of words. More specifically, of
how nomen - a name, a term, a designation - can not only apparently
bring-into-being abstractions (and their categories) but also
prescribe both our thinking and our actions, with such abstractions
and such prescription so often being used by us, we mortals, to
persuade, to entreat, to manipulate, to control, not only ourselves
but through us others of our human kind. Whence how denotatum can
and so often does distance, distract, us from the essence - the
physis - that empathy and its wordless (acausal) knowing can reveal
and has for certain mortals so often in past millennia revealed.
For we seem somehow addicted to talk, to chatter - spoken and
written - just as we assume, we believe, so often on the basis of
nomina that we expand our pretension of knowing beyond the local
horizon of a very personal wordless empathy breeding thus,
encouraging thus, such hubris as has so marked our species for
perhaps five thousand years. With such hubris - such certitude of
knowing - being the genesis of such suffering as we have so often
inflicted on others and, sometimes, even upon ourselves.
Would that we could, as a sentient species, dispense with nomen,
nomina, and thus communicate with others - and with ourselves -
empathically and thus acquire the habit of acausal wordless knowing.
There would then be no need for the politics of propaganda and the
rhetoric of persuasion; no need - no ability - to lie or pretend to
others. For we would be known - wordlessly revealed - for who and
what we really are. And what a different world that would be where
no lie, no deception, would work and where guilt could never be
For some, a few mortals, such a wordless knowing is already, and has
been for centuries, the numinous reality, born as such a personal
reality is either via their pathei-mathos or via their innate
physis. Which is perhaps why such others often secrete, or desire to
secrete, themselves away: an isolated or secluded family - rural, or
island - living, perhaps, and perhaps why Cistercians, some mystics,
some artists, and others of a similar numinous kind, have saught to
dwell, to live, in reclusive or communal silence.
There is - or so there seems to me to be according to my admittedly,
fallible, uncertitude of knowing - a presencing of the essence of
almost all religions here in such a knowing of the value, the
mysterium, of silence. Of that which we so often in our hubris
forget, have forgotten, or never known: that wordless, that
empathic, that so very personal acausal knowing, that personal grief
and personal suffering - that the personal awareness of the numinous
- so often engenders, so often breeds, as has been so recounted for
millennia in our human culture of pathei-mathos.
Given this culture - so accessible now through institutions of
learning, through printed books, through art, memoirs, and music,
and via this medium of this our digital age - shall we, can we,
learn and apply the learning of that culture to significantly change
our lives, thus somehow avoiding that periodicity of suffering which
for millennia our hubris, our certainty of knowing born of nomen and
nomina and the resultant abstractions, has inflicted and continues
to inflict upon us?
I do so wish I had an answer. But for now, all I can do is dwell in
hope of us en masse so evolving that such empathy, such wordless
knowing, has become the norm.
Extract From A Letter To A Friend