As a first jump into contemplating the power of words, we first must look at the world around us…We see a curtain hanging over a window to keep out the glaring sun, a lamp granting us artificial light in its place, a stack of books we keep in plain sight just to remind us we need to use our aging, failing minds before it’s too late. We see so many disparate objects and we have a name for every single one, and if we don’t, we sit there for a few seconds or perhaps a few minutes or maybe even a whole day contemplating what we’re to do with such a thing that bears no name known to us. We’re bred to so subjugate ourselves to the labels, objects bagged and tagged for the processing in a mechanical, spoonfed life that we feel positively displaced and uprooted if we can’t label what we see in front of us
At first glance, you might ask what’s so horrible about labeling and categorizing our worlds, giving them names and words to identify them. I mean there’s no doubt this process serves its purpose as a survival mechanism. It’s not like we can visit the supermarket and buy the food we need to survive without subjugating ourselves to the realm of strict categorical perception. We’re forced to do with in ordinary, commonplace interactions and errands. But just because they can serve such a purpose doesn’t mean that’s the only purpose they serve
If you observe your deep internal experience, the millisecond you look at anything, any object small or large, any person even, any aspect of our physical reality, you may think what first occurs is you give what you’re seeing a name and a label, a category. But in reality, the experience is something that defies all categories and all labels. All of what you perceive has no words because it exists in the wordless state, a state I started calling ‘prelanguage’ as a teenager because, well, it comes before language mars the truth of what we’re seeing. Language as a survival tool where we’re forced to categorize everything just to keep our head with us in an otherwise incredibly daunting Earth undermines the truth of what we’re experiencing that has no real words, not yet anyway. We can sense them, feel them, experience them in every fibre of bone in our bodies, but we can’t name them or give them even a single word but to say it’s all so transcendental
As a precursor to my foray into the wordless, I remember so vividly as a child looking at an apple one day and wondering whimsically like a typical child, ‘what if this apple really isn’t red’? ‘What if it’s another color altogether or even a color we can’t perceive’? This was an obvious precursor because as I got older, I became incessantly obsessed with understanding the nature of reality even though a part of me felt it a fruitless cause because the universe may not be for my understanding. Even then, I couldn’t deny my compulsion. As I went down the rabbithole, I began to realize this concept was something much grander…
Going down the timeline from childhood, a question arises: How do babies communicate with each other despite not having yet learned enough language to carry on an identifiable lingual conversation? Is it possible that in combination with emotive expression, the sounds uttered have their own meaning? Is it possible babies are more in touch with this primordial language than the average adult who’s lived their life being given a perfect little box to live within that defines every aspect of reality from a lingual standpoint? I think so
What constitutes reality? What even is reality? As humancentric humans, we tend to assume we can use our common rationality and logic to dissect the universe and understand its wild ways and more, control them and use them for our distorted aims. The further I rose down, the more I realized just how wrong humanity has it now. To suggest we can understand the universe using the logic of our primitive human brains is to suggest the universe itself is also primitive which is quite a mighty assumption. We understand the universe in terms of cause and effect and ‘if ___, then ___’ logic. We understand it in equations and formulas. In reality, these are what compose the fruitless cause. We will never understand a universe that isn’t ours to understand, especially not with our primitive human brains. Because we can’t rationally prove what is and what isn’t, it would seem that anything is possible. And I mean ANYTHING
But does this mean we’re to be lost souls, wandering, shattered, rootless? Of course not! This is a calling to reach our hands out and surrender to something that at first feels so foreign and daunting that once we step foot there, we’ll swear we’ll never return. Yet you hear the voice of you somehow calling you to a curious comfort because it’s here you’ll find the truths. Once the dam breaks all comes flooding toward you threatening to also break the foundations of all you thought was but isn’t, but it’s ok because what’s broken will be resurrected but will have expanded so far that the coming truths no longer feel so daunting
In the realm of the wordless, contradictions are alive and yet they don’t feel like contradictions. Somehow two opposing truths can exist at once and it just makes sense because the false boundaries we create when we categorize the world into strict dimensions as to what they are and all they can be crumble to the finest dust and they’re gone. It’s now you start to understand that what anything in the world is isn’t in a word, it’s in this essence, the energy you perceive without words that feels so infinite because it has no boundaries, no dimensions. I liken this to the painter looking at the world around her she wishes to paint and not seeing a curtain, or a stack of books or sun rays showing shyly through what the curtain fails to eclipse. Everything becomes more fluid. A book isn’t a book. Look at a book and detach yourself from the concept of what a book is which is undeniably filled with hundreds and thousands of assumptions just because it’s labeled a ‘book’. Once you do that, a whole multitude of universes opens up. Things aren’t what you always thought they were
You may start contemplating other languages and the assumptions they have within their categorical interpretation of reality inextricably wrapped around our tendons with language. Language may begin to seem like a box, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m a writer and even though I realize all of this, I still don’t perceive language as a box because instead when I look at words or objects that have names, I don’t see the words and I don’t see the objects with labels, I see the entirety of their unseen world, veins sprawled out and calling me to the heart, the fast beating core where everything exists in a suspended state of wordlessness. Here, our perception of the universe is truly ours and no one else’s
About 150 years ago, a British scholar named William Gladstone was studying Homer’s “The Odyssey” and noticed that the poet had some unconventional descriptions of color. For instance, honey was described as green, while iron was called violet. However, no mention of blue existed. Similar investigations into ancient texts of a number of other languages were also missing any mention of the word blue. In fact, the first mention of blue wasn’t found in any language until about 4,500 years ago. Was it possible that they weren’t able to perceive it as we do now?
Psychologist Jules Davidoff traveled to Namibia in order to conduct an experiment with the Himba tribe. Their language has no distinct word for blue, and when asked to choose a blue square among a group of green squares, they had extreme difficulty.
The theory is that the perception of ‘blue’ didn’t even exist until there was a word for it and in fact it was quite possible the sky wasn’t perceived as blue, but a shade of green or perhaps purple
Because color only exists as it is perceived by an individual, it becomes hard to definitively say what our ancestors did or did not see. Were they really colorblind to it entirely? Or did they merely lack the vocabulary to articulate what it was they were seeing? Or did their brain not bother to view blue as distinct from other colors?
I had a thought yesterday, just a wondering as to what would happen if a child was never once told the ‘sky is blue’ or ‘grass is green’ and they were asked to go outside and draw a picture of what they saw around them and color it. Would they necessarily choose a blue crayon for the sky? Is it possible the dimensions we’re told exist, the colors we’re taught things in our external world are can dilute our perception? What is it a child or anyone might see if we strip away everything we’ve been taught is? Is it possible what we’re taught is isn’t even true?
These are some vital questions. Once you start asking them, the universe doesn’t look the same. The boundaries and limitations you once perceived start to melt in the light of new perception. You’re compelled to go to the heart, the truest essence of all that is and what their nature is, the beauty you can only perceive when you’ve detached yourself from all the words, the box that tells you, ‘this is how the world is, nothing more and nothing less’. Because in truth, no one can rationally tell you what is and what isn’t. It’s all in you
Around the time I became obsessed with somehow understanding the nature of all that existed outside my primitive human brain I felt so compelled to search for the secrets of the universe, to understand it, even though a part of me felt it fruitless. I just couldn’t deny my compulsions. I was a little fucked up at the time…Ok, very fucked up. So my traversing into the realm of the hidden, piercing the veil,..it was mostly about power, power of intellect, power to stomach the grim truths others ran away from. But beyond the megalomania, I did come upon an idea I couldn’t shake: I began to feel that the universe doesn’t have a singular nature, and if it does, we can’t know it, but we all have a ‘key’. All of us, and I do mean all of us, have such a beautifully subjective experience of reality that every single one of us has one of the keys to understanding reality. At the time I admit I had some avarice. I had fantasies of being able to get into peoples’ minds and see what they saw because I KNEW that everyone had such different ways of viewing the world and if they had pieces of the puzzle, I wanted those pieces!
I’m not that way anymore. I just appreciate the beauty of people who dare to delve into the seemingly unknown territories, the voids and the ecstasy, the fires and the healing waters, the ones who dare to let themselves be destroyed so they can rise again something a little more pure, more vibrant more real
Once we detach ourselves from all the labels and assumptions, then we can begin to use words to explore something you will never read about in a linguistics book or a psychology textbook. Enter the realm of symbol and abstract, a world with no bars, a world where you’re only a slave if you choose to be, the realm where words are yours and there are no rules, a world where we reach just a little closer to the roots of our human language
…what exists separate from words that words can aide us in exploring if we let them. There’s an entire universe that exists before we give things form and structure and definition and say what they are because what they are isn’t in a word or even the most eloquent string of them