meaning and spells
Here in a foreign tongue I can barely speak, but even in silence language is inescapable. Asleep or awake my mind fills itself with conversation, constructing models of reality to frame the thoughts that emerge from the wondering void. It's neither madness nor magic to imagine what we mean; rehearsing is the only way to make sense of things, and get them right.
Communication is primitive, fundamental. Every being, in engaging with its world, communicates with others, however unconnected they might seem, and each responds whether understanding what they mean or not. In the primordial soup some wriggling thing unknowingly spoke and its environment replied. In the beginning was the word - just not a word we would recognize.
Life needs awareness to make choices to survive, an awareness striving for fulfillment - how else could it be. Each being is set apart through the essential singularity of this. Built from inherited codes it is bootstrapped, converting that which it can recognize into a measure of significance by matching current sensations to prior experiences. From biology meta-biology emerges, a psychology of some sort - biological expressions having psychological correlates and psychological frames correlating to biological expressions. Hormones no more create love than love creates hormones.
Opposites are often equally true: colour does not exist and yet obviously it does; the mind does not exist and yet obviously it does. As the physicist Niels Böhr said, "opposites are not contradictory but complementary." No choice is required. Abstract concepts and concrete descriptions coexist in different frames of language, parallels, in metaphorical and literal expressions. No mutually understood communication takes place without a common reference frame of perception and sense. However, as well as the mind and the soul, other significant groups of categories are also commonly conflated. The errors that result from this, like trojan horses, slide deception and confusion into understanding and decisions.
Words have grown increasingly powerful now that literacy has pushed aside our native, phrasal language. Though it's easy to get lost in words, and often hard to see their point, literate people revere them. They delight us, but as increasingly we have come to depend upon the maps they represent, they are unconsciously being accepted as the territories themselves. Meanwhile, no longer having a voice, the illiterate are left with nothing other than to contemplate the divergence of wisdom from scriptures.
Words are just noise or marks on a page; their only meaning is given them by you and I. Personal and ambiguous they map the things we find important, so readily get entangled. When they do, losing sight of where we are, connections suddenly become unclear; questions and answers begin to revolve, trapping us in vicious circles. It's meaning that makes stuff matter but this has to be negotiated. Nuance is central, reasoning can only support any search.
Priests and rulers cloaked the world in spiritual language to serve the dream of power, annexing dreams of a heaven on Earth in their literal interpretations of scripture and law. Countries were drawn around our feudal state with terror not enlightenment, and on its ruin, with hope crippled by war, a new faith took root - the unqualified faith in science: scientism. Science has no need for faith - faith only corrupts it. Science is simple and absolute, neither human nor divine.
Whatever chemistry life first stepped through, matters of meaning remain distinct from the temporal struggles of biology and extending beyond boundaries of conception and death. In all things interpretation is inescapable: whoever speaks it, the word of Man is not the Word of God; the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. Whether in universities, temples, mosques, or churches, whenever the ineffable soul is imagined as being chained to the machinations of biology and its meta-constructs, meditations upon it become conflicted with lures of power.
Who can say if we have any greater ability to successfully direct the development of our species than others have to direct theirs. It seems clear we have less than we might believe, but whatever attempts we do make to do so are crippled when we do not recognize and value the different language-frames we use as we try, as it is these that guide our choices by framing our perception.
Niels Bohr, a Danish physicist who received the Nobel Prize for his foundational contributions to Quantum theory, conceived the Principle of Complementarity - that singular items could at the same time possess apparently mutually exclusive properties - after realizing that light behaved like both waves and particles. "Contraria non contradictoria sed complementa sunt" - contradictions are not contradictory but complimentary - was his motto. Regarding meaning, he wrote: "We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down."
Groups of categories are significantly, commonly, and routinely conflated, including:- the mind and the soul; health and wellbeing; culture and grace; science and religion; justice and law, freedom and licence; art and philosophy; reality and virtuality.