Dr. Misia Landau of the Harvard Medical School said, (paraphrased), “Language creates reality.” What could he mean by this?
Yesterday, there was some not-quite-so brief mention of imagination and its role in the world of roles. I can’t pretend that asking for a -complete- sum of parts in explanations is an original idea, but I do like to think that some of my genotypes are of the “ancient” sort. Meaning that I’d really like to think of being as deeply connected to curiosity as I can be, perhaps tracing that lineage back to the first people to ask questions.
I don’t know when the above quote was said, but within the last 30 years. That’s not really important, but it’s not an unfamiliar idea. In the physical way, all the sensory data that floods our brains from all the trillions of holes on our surface is filtered through the right and left brains, but then what? There has to some sort of way for the brain to communicate to the “other,” which is to say the you, the one possessing the brain, what it is you are seeing and feeling in terms that are familiar. The language you learn and speak becomes the first way that any person starts to define themselves. If you know what a “chair” is, but have no words to describe it, then the question is still “What is this?!”
But if the first words were “ugh go brakak,” (< not in any way a documented fact), why aren’t they the same words we use today?
Yesterday I presented the problem of “growing complexity” and the sort of complete and continuing toll its having on us. Eventually, there had to be stronger words to define more and more things, some of which had to include multiple things at a time.
Think of a television. You probably have one nearby you can look at right now. You know what a TV is, you know what the sum of its parts equal, but if you’re an electrical engineer or a chemist, that TV is a very different object to you. Since you understand a little more of what “television” means in terms of components, that one word can store thousands of other little definitions beyond “an electrical entertainment/relay device.” But it only takes up as much space as the word “television,” or also, “TV.”
And that helps a problem I had with another thought. The shortest, easiest, simplest answer is language. Spoken language may have still been grunts and grumbles when symbols were first used, but symbols were the first way to use a limited (but growing) capacity in a way that was a little more than in “single structures.” Whatever the symbol meant, it stood for something that was an elaborate explanation summed up into a picture(s), or glyph. It wasn’t quite “writing” yet, but it was the first step.
With the passing of time and growing of capacity and the instinctual understanding of how to use that capacity, now we have symbols that aren’t just pictures anymore. The television mentioned above is an example. It’s a symbol of every little piece of metal, wood, plastic, human hands and understanding that went into it’s development and creation. From then until now. And forever, it’s a continuing story for that particular symbol. In another world, due to it’s popularity and utilization, a television might’ve been named the “Hermes” for its informative qualities. Or even a “Mercury” for the extreme communication properties itself.
(And that’s another point. The television, as a symbol, can convey information or other symbols, increasing its own capacity an indefinite potential.)
So, back to the quote, “Language creates reality.” Language created itself, really. And here’s a fabulous point to your credit, ladies, it was -your- doing. The “gatherers” would have to have a nice system of classifying which things were edible and which were not (see: “ugh go brakak”) while the “hunters” would probably be completely silent so as to be able to sneak up on prey. Until there were effective (“safe,” somewhat?) means of tackling larger prey (that would take communication and better tools), they would have to be avoided to ensure success.
Women were the first scholars, whether they realize it or not (most likely the first ritual masters, too). I’m sure it wasn’t a complicated language at first, but once born, it was something that couldn’t be stopped, again like all young children. Once a label was satisfactorily given, well, excitedly, “What else can we define?!”
For some reason, despite all the ages of modern improvements on those early ideas, I can still tap into that early excitement that primitive man must’ve had. The veritable need to qualify their own existence by defining into further terms what each thing in their life was. Their definition for “home” was vastly different from ours, the least of reasons being that again, physically, meaning a home is more or less the sum of all the things contained therein including emotional stuff. What a symbol that is. Is it any less important to anybody? What happens when you lose that definition of “home?”
But, that’s beside the point. What happens next after a little bit o’ linguistic development? The divide, of course. Probably the first instance of the shrinking of yesterday’s corpus callosum so that there could be more “play” in the abstract…, as well as the differences that arise when things are defined by people with different opinions.
It’s not to say that the proof that early humans left each other’s company in anger is the fact that we all speak different languages. (Start a new one to distance yourself as completely as possible from the “old ways/world.”) You may have heard that the only way to “Kill a nation is to kill its language,” and that’s why, on the emotional or intellectual level, that symbols are so important. They can save a dying language from persecution as it lives on in what symbols mean, even the terrible, terrifying ones.
It’s not enough to revive it, though. To grossly over-exaggerate, there’s a million languages spoken and written that are on the verge of disappearing. I’m not equipped to defend them and I only speak English. I’m aware that there’s people who live in places that I can’t imagine approaching, who’s world view is such that it doesn’t even contain a definition of a man of my color or my nationality. Is that humbling? I think so.
The world has a long, complex history. I would say the full richness of it we can’t even guess at completely yet. And that’s because there exist no words to define some of these processes. “But wait,” you might say, “that’s not true. Science and religion and idiots all have answers for everything.”
And that’s very true. Those well-spoken and well-defined words have helped develop a growing, animalistic man into the “civilized” version we are today. The passion for defining continues, if not exponentially. Evident in the fact that not everyone agrees with everyone else’s definitions and some versions of the same “story” aren’t believed by everybody. Money, government, sacred writs, contracts, are things that aren’t “real” in the sense that they don’t fully and completely exist as a physical object defining what they are. (You can argue money here, almost too easily, but the “value” of money has to be “universally” agreed on or believed in. If that’s the case for it to work, then by definition, it’s a piece of fiction. It “works” because so many people -do- believe it; it even makes for an effective system.)
Language created that. Language created the increasingly complex universe. Yesterday made mention that the human eyeball can see virtually none of the actual light that exists in the universe. Thus, our definition of “what” is flawed, because we can’t describe what we can’t see, even if we can capture pictures of what’s there.
Worse, more, when you study something, you change its very nature. (And if it changes when you’re around, then it’s aware of your presence, granting some sort of sentience to even the abstract. O.o) By continuing to use an evolving language to define it, we gave rise to a larger and larger and more complex version of it. Now, theories abound that there could be more universes! And of course, the [expletive] proof of that is that each and every sentient thing defines their universe differently, causing as much overlap physically as there is …uh, “physically.”
And so that’s what’s happening. Like the ancestors before with their cooking and communicating, dancing and defining, loving and loathing leading to their speedy development, so, too do we go down that path. Our symbols and definitions grow in complexity by the hour and we learn how to store more and more in our brains in the shortest, most efficient way possible (well, I guess the actual “brain-process” is pretty extensive, but that’s another story).
The brain’s a stupid machine. And so, if someone challenges its definitions of things, with all the work that it had to go through to create them, it reacts in anger. It’s a way of taking someone’s reality away.
And now, if you aren’t aware, here’s this: We do this in our conversations everyday. There’s no one who agrees with or sees what we do in the same way. They can’t, they absolutely can’t. Nevertheless, our main objective is to try and change their world to resemble the one that we see. I suspect that intimidation is the method used the most, since it’s probably the easiest and doesn’t always require intelligence.
Now think of the impossible – of changing everyone’s mind at once. How could that happen? Even in a common language using the same words to define the same things we all see and do, there’s nothing that would do it. A common message by its very nature of being “common” would be enough to turn away some.
And what’s the point of the last part? I don’t know. But, that, uh, “impossible” part is going to become my job as of May 1, 2016. What’s the point of the post? I’m not sure, either. I need the exercise to wake up, but maybe we all need the reminder, too, that who we are, totally, has an impact on our surroundings and the people and objects in them. Maybe it can help, bit by bit, if we’re aware that even something as simple as our language is a powerful enough weapon to change another’s world, whether we might mean to or not.
And to help spread the idea that women have a lot of be proud of and they should be aware of that, too. It goes back to the first days of crawling around on the Earth and it deserves profoundly more credit than it gets. If anything, the entire development of “Civilized Culture(s)” is focused on hiding that fact by showcasing only men’s “good” and achievements.
Good luck, Ladies! Take heart, a little.
PS: It also goes without saying that while I expanded on these ideas with my own opinions, they are not mine.