Tag Archives: language

Obscurity, the Refuge of Incompetence

“It’s up to the artist to use language that can be understood, not hide it in some private code. Most of these jokers don’t even want to use language you and I know or can learn . . . they would rather sneer at us and be smug, because we ‘fail’ to see what they are driving at. If indeed they are driving at anything–obscurity is usually the refuge of incompetence.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

 

Is the purpose of language communication? I believe most of us would agree that it is. I wonder at times what it is that we seek to communicate. Do we mean exactly what our words say or do we carry another message? Do we use simple language that conveys simple meaning no matter how complex the idea. I mean “I love you” is a simple phrase yet it is one that can mean anything from “I’m glad you’re here” to “Do as I say” to “I need you to love me” and about 150 others. How often when two people speak does it seem as if despite the fact they use the same words, they are speaking two totally different languages. What’s worse is that they realize that communication isn’t taking place and are so busy blaming the other one that they don’t even realize this fact.
I have come to the conclusion that what we say always communicates something even if that something is “I have no intention of communicating with you. I will hold tight to the language I am using even tho you seem to have a problem understanding it. Then I will blame you for not understanding me. If I am not understanding what you say I will tell you that the problem lies with you.” Wouldn’t it be easier at times to drop the pretense and not claim communication in the first place? It would be more honest anyway.
Quite often experts in a given field will talk to laymen in the jargon of their field and claim they are communicating clearly. Tho this happens most often with doctors and lawyers and academics, I have also seen it done by philosophers and subscribers to spirituality. Jargon is their membership badge and rather than compare maps with others to the benefit of both, they use language to exclude,. “If you were one of us, you would get what I’m saying but oh so sorry you’re not”
Thus we go on building our towers of words and wonder when they crash to the ground under the weight of their own verbiage.
Blessings, G

 

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Multi-FitFitness of Mind and Spirit by  G A Rosenberg

 

CommunionCommunion by G A Rosenberg

Quote of the Day – September 14 2012

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
― Patrick Rothfuss

 

I gave words a bad rap the other night. Yes, they convey meaning only approximately at best and are as good at blocking communication as they are at aiding it but can we blame the tools for how they are used? The right words can inspire. The right words can heal and build bridges and wake people up who slept before. Words can win battles and tear down old moribund structures. Words are a kind of magic. That’s why we call it spelling 🙂
Words can also damage. Words can bring a person to despair but they can also lift them up to heights never seen before. Words with intent are amazing things.
That word intent becomes important along with another one mindfulness. So much depends on us being mindful not only of what we do but what we say. With mindfulness and intent every word becomes a spell and thus we use our power.
Blessings, G

 

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Green Play Mandala by G A Rosenberg

 

Launch Pad by G A Rosenberg

Quote of the Day – April 16 2012

“Is”, “is.” “is” — the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”; I only know how it seems to me at this moment”
― Robert Anton Wilson

So much of what I’ve been thinking and writing about of late seems to come down to this quote. We human beings love to generalize and then stop. If we can peg something down and describe it then we think we have a handle on it.  “Pumpkin Pie is good”,  “Violence is bad”, “Roberta is smart” Once we have these descriptive maps, we tend to fit our reality around them. Even the worst pumpkin pie will taste bette than Brussel Sprouts if we have in our mapping of reality that one is good and the other is bad. Violence done to defend oneself or one’s loved one is looked on critically because everyone knows that ‘Violence is bad’. When applied to  highly relativistic areas like politics, this classification becomes even more fraught. Words that we use to describe our countries or our points of view can come back to bite us in the ass in a big way. Right now in the United States, the government tells us that ‘Iran is bad’, ‘Iran is warmongering’ etc. It is justifying a possible war using much the same language that it used the last time to justify the last war. You remember the second gulf war? The one where we were told that Iraq was manufacturing and stockpiling nuclear missiles and so we should get them before they get us? Only later on, it turned out that that wasn’t quite true. Once the rhetoric was stripped away, there was no proof of nuclear weapons in Iraq.

Now we are being told similar things about Iran. What’s worse is that many believe it without question. After all our elected officials are reliable. Aren’t they?

Blessings, G

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Fractal Soup (Unicursal Hexagram) by G A Rosenberg

Quote of the Day – November 26 2011

 ‎”Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
–Buddha

Thinking about language and how some words have become so charged that people when hearing them will react to the words used rather than what is being said. Some words seem to break communication stopping intelligent discourse dead in its tracks just by uttering them. These words (or terms or images (see Hitler or the Swastika) over time seem to have had their meaning so charged both positively and negatively that once you say them, you take on the charge and depending on how the person hearing them wishes to magnetize or polarize themselves, they will react. Examples of these words: socialism, communism, democracy, new world order, religion, Hitler, nazi. I go back and forth whether to add the words love and spiritual to this list. I know that there are many others that can be added. In my more paranoid (or lucid depending on  whom you talk to) moments I wonder at the social engineering that have resulted in these words being unable to be heard.
By demonizing communism during the cold war and then making sure that anyone who warned against it was seen as extreme or crazy (the term McCarthyism becoming synonymous with witch hunts) and miscarriages of justice, the nwo suckers make it very easy to discredit people like Charlotte Iserbyt

Another method to manipulate people with language:

A) Demonize a word (whether or not the word defines something evil or not is irrelevant at this point)
i.e. Communism in the 50’s. Was the Soviet form of social collectivism masquerading as Communism a bad thing undoubtedly as it becomes a very easy tool for manipulating / exploiting the masses

B) Once the word is demonized, have someone , in a position of power like Senator McCarthy et al take it to insane degrees (seeing communists everywhere accessing everyone on the smallest amount of evidence of being communist. and then persecuting them (i.e. the blacklisting in Hollywood

C) at this point at a fairly slow rate, you can bring in whatever you have been demonizing, calling it by other names (social justice, oneness, democracy in action (anyone who points out that this is actually socialist collectivism or what passed for Communism / Socialism will be seen as insane, People will not react in a logical thoughtful way to what they have to say, they will react to the use of the word branding the person using it in all kinds of unpleasant ways missing the point of anything they have to say

Sound familiar?
Blessings,
GAR

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Fire Mountains Under Storm Skies by G A Rosenberg

Spider’s Lady and Rupture in Language

After a few seconds of silence, she managed to find some words. “Joe, are you familiar with the phenomenon Samuel Delany calls ‘rupture’?”
“Hey, I never get that carried away.”
“There it goes again. Rupture occurs when you think you are in the middle of a conversation with someone. . . and suddenly discover that you’ve merely been making noises at each other, that there is a previously unsuspected chasm between you beside which the Marianas Trench is a pothole. We have come to a point
of rupture, Joe. You don’t know what I mean, and I’m not sure I understand what you said. I think we must be using different maps.”
“Oh yeah?”
~”Either that, or you’re a real jackass.”
I did what PIs always do when insulted: shrugged, and went for a wisecrack. “Not much point in being a fake jackass, is there?”
“Ask the man who sent you here.”
That reminded me that The Man would be upset with me if I blew this commission-and he had succeeded in scaring the shit out of me. “TouchÈ. Okay, let’s rewind to where we went wrong and start over. What were you really asking me to do, when I thought you wanted me to ‘Rent-A-‘Rection’?”
She shook her head. “It won’t help, I tell you. We’ve got different maps. The street I’m pointing to doesn’t exist on yours.”
“Okay. How do I get one of your maps?”
“You’ll just- have to draw your own, I’m afraid.”
I sighed. “Look, Lady, I’m not trying be to difficult. But how the hell am I supposed to do that?”
Priscilla spoke up. “Map-making isn’t hard. Just tricky.”
“I’m listening,” I said politely.
“Four stages. The obvious three are: look around you carefully, record what you see, and integrate it. It’s the very first part that’ll trip you up, and it’s the most important of all.”
“It’s the whole thing,” Lady Sally corrected. “The other three happen automatically; you couldn’t stop ’em if you tried-once you do the first thing.” –
Damn it, the P1 isn’t supposed to be the straight man. “Whichï is?” –
– “Throw out all the old maps you already have in the glove compartment,” Priscilla said.
Lady Sally nodded. “Forget all the reports of earlier explorers. You can’t discover America if you keep shying away from the edge of the world. And if you do find it, you’ll waste years asking to be taken to Kublai Khan.”

Lately, I’ve been watching quite a few videos on youtube. I find many of the discussions that the more thoughtful videos engender to be quite instructive. I wonder at times if people really listen to each other’s words either in the videos themselves or in theirt comments and replies. I find some of the debates fascinating. Questions such as whether suffering is objective or subjective. Do we create our own universe and everything in it or do we perceive reality as being objective and/or consensual?  When we conceptualize our perceptions do we use language or does language come as an expression of those perceptions? I find all of these questions to be fascinating.

At times it seems apparent that for at least some of the people discussing these issues, the opposing points of view cannot even be conceived. It appears to me as if they cannot map the opposing viewpoint onto their view of reality. At the point in the discussion where these areas get hit on each other’s maps, the conversation is what science fiction writer Samuel Delaney called rupture.

In the now unfortunately out-of-print novel Lady Slings the Booze , Spider Robinson has his characters discuss the term rupture and how to deal with maps that may be different from our own.

After a few seconds of silence, she managed to find some words. “Joe, are you familiar with the phenomenon Samuel Delany calls ‘rupture’?”

“Hey, I never get that carried away.”

“There it goes again. Rupture occurs when you think you are in the middle of a conversation with someone. . . and suddenly discover that you’ve merely been making noises at each other, that there is a previously unsuspected chasm between you beside which the Marianas Trench is a pothole. We have come to a pointof rupture, Joe. You don’t know what I mean, and I’m not sure I understand what you said. I think we must be using different maps.

….

” The street I’m pointing to doesn’t exist on yours.”

“Okay. How do I get one of your maps?”

“You’ll just- have to draw your own, I’m afraid.”

I sighed. “Look, Lady, I’m not trying be to difficult. But how the hell am I supposed to do that?”

Priscilla spoke up. “Map-making isn’t hard. Just tricky.”

“I’m listening,” I said politely.

“Four stages. The obvious three are: look around you carefully, record what you see, and integrate it. It’s the very first part that’ll trip you up, and it’s the most important of all.”

“It’s the whole thing,” Lady Sally corrected. “The other three happen automatically; you couldn’t stop ’em if you tried-once you do the first thing.” –

Damn it, the PI isn’t supposed to be the straight man. “Which is?” –

– “Throw out all the old maps you already have in the glove compartment,” Priscilla said.

Lady Sally nodded. “Forget all the reports of earlier explorers. You can’t discover America if you keep shying away from the edge of the world. And if you do find it, you’ll waste years asking to be taken to Kublai Khan.”

Why would we wish to open our minds or maps to new territories we haven’t accepted before? Why travel anyplace new? I can think of several reasons. Perhaps we wish to learn whatever the new outlook may teach us and in my experience there exist  few viewpoints, opinions, philosophies or places that have absolutely nothing to teach us. Even what may seem to be an  absurd notion to us may lead to some fascinating paths or fancies. Perhaps the more points of view that we can understand, the more comprehensively we can defend our own .Perhaps as the Danish physicist Niels Bohr said “The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement, but the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.” . and  It might be that the ‘profound’ truths that oppose our own may be the hardest for us to map.

No matter the reason, I find it difficult to understand how people have these troubles entertaining viewpoints that seem to be in opposition to their own. After all if the metaphor of mapping new territory does hold up, wouldn’t most people enjoy a free trip, no matter where it might lead?