We didn't have to give up literacy to acknowledge the flux of the world or understand it now, did we?
We really don’t understand the flux of the world. We acknowledge it, but we can’t understand it. They say that quantum physics is almost impossible for anyone to entirely understand, and that’s largely because of our literacy, because we can only very superficially acknowledge the actual nature of the world while still caught in the illusory halls of “TO BE.” On the other hand, observe how easily Indian language speakers grasp quantum physics. That means that the difficulty of quantum physics is precisely the problem of literacy’s “thing-like” universe. If you can say you actually understand quantum physics, then I’ll believe you that your thinking has actually not been hampered by literacy. But we don’t understand it; at best, we can acknowledge it and forsake the possibility of understanding it, but that’s not the same. By following the scientific path of the colonized mind all the way around, we’ve ended up back at the beginning, and can now see that the most important scientific questions are things we were far better equipped to explore before we started.
Even Native Americans had words for buffalo, longhouse, man, woman, "two-spirit," and tipi, which had to be nouns, even if they had different meanings or more than word for buffalo (as did some Native American languages).
By in large, they weren’t nouns, that’s the whole point. You’re obviously not understanding how big the difference is here. Here’s an example that Willem posted:
Joseph Rael, of the Thunder Caller Clan, grew up in PicurÃƒÂs Pueblo in northern New Mexico. When he was 6, his family moved there from the Ute Reservation in southern Colorado, and he had to learn three new languages: Tewa, which was spoken at PicurÃƒÂs; Spanish, the language of people in the surrounding villages; and English, which was taught at Indian Day School.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I felt like IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d walked into another dimension in time . . . another reality,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
To illustrate, he described the experience of getting water at the communal well. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In English, it meant to me the Pavlovian thing. You hear the words, run to the buckets, get them, go outside, get to the pump, get the water and then you bring it back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now, hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what it means in Tewa. Aah-paah-ii-meh (ah pa HI may). Ã¢â‚¬ËœAahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is purity and clarity. Ã¢â‚¬ËœPaahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is light. Ã¢â‚¬ËœIiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is awareness. Ã¢â‚¬ËœMehÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is movement. When I went to get water, I became the activities I was doing. I became purity Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ clarity Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ light Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ awareness Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ and movement.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Most animist languages don’t deal with nouns, names of things. They deal with actions. That’s why you get those silly Indian names; they’re not silly in their original context, they’re made silly by the awkwardness of translating not just from an Indian language to English, but from a universe of events to a universe of things. For instance, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) typically named trees for the sounds they made as wind swept through them; it’s not quite the same as our nouns, and I find myself struggling to explain it in colonized terms the same way a quantum physicist struggles to explain his field, and for very similar reasons: the limitations implied in the only words we have simply do not apply.
There are objects in the picture, the picture is a picture, but there are actions as well. Cartoonists can show actions and verbs in pictures, like the "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoon mentioned in this thread. What's wrong with acknowledging both? Can't the two ways of seeing the picture be both valid?
You’re missing the point. There’s only one that you can concentrate on, only one that you can notice first. Everyone eventually sees both; the question is, when asked, “What does this show?” what is your first answer? Is it a picture of a runner running, or is it a picture of running, with a runner? When you look at a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, what’s the first thing you see? Do you see the objects, or the action? You can only see one of them first. Eventually, you see both, but which one you see first reflects your basic view of the universe. If the universe is a set of things, or if the universe is a set of relationships, will change everything. If you see the universe as things that can relate, that means you live in a universe of things. It’s a universe of things, and one of the things the things happen to do is to relate. If you live in a universe of relationships, then there are no things, because “things” would be formed by their relationships, and relationships can change, so they’re not “things.” Things have a consistent nature; things persist; things ARE. That can’t be in a universe of relationship. That’s what quantum mechanics tells us, what animist languages confirm, and what the colonized mind cannot accept.
Wait a minute. It was we who define words. You've redefined horticulture and agriculture countless times, can we not redefine what a fact is or acknowledge it should be redefined? How does "redefining" a word invalidate using it?
Because then we’re not talking about the word. If you redefine it, you’re not talking about what the word means, you’re scrapping that and coming up with a totally different meaning. I have never redefined horticulture or agriculture: I have reiterated, clarified and repeated the meaning they already have, but I’ve never redefined it. If you redefine a fact so that it no longer means “fact,” but instead means, “bowling ball,” you’re not communicating, you’re just playing the silliest of word games.
Sure, the book changed. But it obviously could change.
They didn’t change, though. You just made a new book that was different from the old book in just one way. That’s not changing it, that’s creating something new.
Here's another example--I edit my words constantly. The posts I've written--I sometimes edit ten times before I finish them. Notice that I erased the point about the Kwakiutl after writing it even though you quoted it, since I saw that it was indeed off-track. I change them if I feel like it. Yes, the editing must stop, but some change initially is possible. It's not all-or-nothing the way I felt you argued it. Of course, if you didn't argue that, then I apologize for misunderstanding you.
It’s still not changing it, it’s creating something new. I responded to a version of your post that no longer exists; the post that’s there now is a new post. We’re not talking about a changing post, we’re talking about different (but similiar) posts being created.
To compare: if I were to cut my hair off, that would be a change. If you were to clone me without my hair and then kill me, that’s not changing, that’s creating something similar, but still new. That’s what happens when you edit a book, a post, or any other written work: you create something similar, but new. It’s not the same written work, so it’s not changing.
How is this not?
Where’s your empathy sense? Is it in your skin, your eyes, your ears? Where is your sense of empathy located? Where’s your empathy organ? I can see a sunset, smell a flower, feel a breeze, or taste a piece of fruit–does empathy go into that list? Can I empathize a starry night?
Empathy is very deeply tied to our senses; it prompts our senses to emulate sensations we may have never felt first-hand, and it is instructed by our sensuous experience, but it is not, in itself, a sense.
Yes, and obviously one can still analyze things in oral settings even when they are still literate.
Actually, no. “Analysis,” as we mean it, doesn’t really happen in oral societies. Tracking, instead, forms the basic mental model of inquiry.
Sure, a song is different--so why does literacy inherently blind you if we still know how to analyze oral things differently?
Because we live in a universe of things. Even music becomes a thing. A song is made up of notes and chords, for instance. Once you live in a universe of things, you can never again live in a universe of relationships.
You still were able to acknowledge that in a "literate" context.
Which is rather like being able to wake up one morning and say, “Hey, I’m in a prison!” Is that sufficient? No; you probably want out of the prison, too. Yes, from a literate context we can acknowledge how our literacy traps us, makes us stupid, and makes it impossible for us to ever understand what the universe is actually like. So, stop there and be happy we have writing? No, that’s the point at which we should be looking to see how we can break free of that cognitive cage.
I will not deny that my mind has probably been colonized in some form by literacy. I'm sure yours has too.
It absolutely has. And there’s the challenge of rewilding our language, which is what E-Primitive is for.
Again, my argument here is this: can one think dually, and that is acknowledge a context for the "literate" mind as well as acknowledge the "sensuous" mind? I believe so. You might not, but my "observations" have made me conclude that I can.
And this is my argument: you can think with a whole multitude of perspectives, but the literate mindset of “IS” and “ARE” and “TO BE” is not one of them, because that is a colonizing paradigm that throttles every other perspective. It contradicts every other perspective, so it cannot co-exist with them. All other perspectives complement and enrich one another; this kills every other perspective until only it exists. So, if you try to “think dually,” you’re really just thinking literately.
I said valuable, not necessary. I was also pointing out that you have defended facts as consistent. Again, I did not say that I believed those facts were consistent or unchanging, just that that was how you defended them. If I said something else, I will "retract" that.
But I haven’t defended them as facts. I’ve defended them as consistent observations, even as consequences, but not as facts. If I used such language, it was due to my poverty of language. All I have is this crappy, domesticated language riddled with “TO BE” and other such nonsense, and it makes it impossible to think, much less communicate, clearly.
Consider mathematics. Two plus two equals four. Four plus four equals eight.
Math was a bad example … I think Zerzan gets pretty silly on this one, but this is still a convention. What does “two” mean? Or “four”? Furthermore, counting really only takes hold after domestication. The things that populate a hunter-gatherer’s world are too heterogeneous for counting to have any meaning. Only with domestication do you have interchangeable organisms. Yes, there were plenty of Indian cultures with domestication.
Okay, how about gravity? Apples drop when you let go of them unless they are otherwise supported. That's consistent, is it not? Every apple that is let go drops, or a ball.
But it’s much more accurate to talk about this in terms of relationships than “facts.” Gravity is not a fact; it’s a relationship between two bodies.
Yes, that's true. But again, why do you have to say "appears" consistently? People might prefer saying the "leaves are green," but they know they will turn brown.
So, “the leaves are green” is a contraction for, “the leaves appear green, even though I’m saying they ‘are’ green, I don’t actually mean that, because that would be absurd”? What about saying what you mean rather than making people guess? Do you see the confusion this all causes?
That is part of the problem of E-Prime; in trying to rehabilitate English, it can become very clumsy and unwieldy. Animist languages manage to express what they actually mean without this problem, and that’s part of what it means to rewild our language: to say what we mean, and to be able to say it concisely.
Why did I have to change my speech to acknowledge that leaves will turn brown.
Because right now, you’ve become so used to an impoverished language built on absurd assumptions that you’ve accepted as a given that no one could ever possibly mean what they’re saying. So what good is it? Your language is constantly seperating you from your senses, every time you say “is” or “are” instead of “looks” or “smells,” and in return for that sacrifice you get to “move gradually from paradox to nonsense to total gibberish,” and you get to be cut off from any real understanding of the way the world works because you’re so busy trying to understand what everything “is.”
Is that enough of a reason to suggest that we might want to explore rewilding our language?
First, what is "to be?"
“To be” asserts something about an object’s nature.
The idea that “objects” exist comes from literacy, and the “thing-ness” each word implies. That it has a “nature” stems from the way literacy removes us from our sensuous experience, talking about a “tree,” rather than that tree or that tree, which implies some “tree-ness,” which brings us to Plato’s world of Forms and Aristotlean ideals, from which real, sensuous objects derive.
“To be” only makes sense in that context; it asserts something about the Form of an object. “Light is a wave” asserts that the Form of light derives from the Form of wave. “Light is a particle” asserts that the Form of light derives from the Form of particle. These two contradict each other, since particle and wave are two different Forms, so light cannot be both. It leads us to a paradox.
But the paradox exists only inside of the illusions created by literacy, as we’ve seen. Without literacy, words are events, not things; there are no Forms, and no objects. Instead, the universe is made up of relationships. In that context, light can very easily “be” both a particle and a wave, only because “to be” ceases to mean anything. It’s gibberish; it’s as meaningful as asgbrfgrweg.
Again, I've said things at static equations, but I didn't have to lose my literacy to be open to the possibility they might change.
That’s because on the deeper levels that really matter here, you’re not open to the possibility they might change. You never have been. Light being a particle and a wave is still a paradox for you. You haven’t given up literacy, and that’s why you’re capable of only the most superficial acknowledgement that the world isn’t the way you understand it. That’s a very different thing from actually understanding it.
Yes, and we did that without giving up writing. We did it instinctively, and argued that literacy had one way of thinking, but we had to use another way of thinking to analyze emotions.
I really haven’t even gotten to emotions. We’ve come to the understanding that “to be” is nonsense, but do we have an understanding of something that isn’t nonsense? No. We’re still literate, still looking at “things” and their “natures.” We can see that it’s absurd and stupid, but we’re still doing it, and mostly for lack of any alternative. Figuring out some alternative is exactly what rewilding our language is about.
Why does everything have to be taken literally?
We’re talking about language. Even though all of us know that we don’t really mean what we’re saying and we’ve accepted that sorry truth, repeating it still trains our minds to think in those terms. We may know that it’s wrong, but we’re still reinforcing that mental cage every time we use those words, because that’s what those words mean.
Not if it's easier for us to say it. If we all instinctively will change what we mean, what's the problem with saying is, if we're willing to nonverbally and subconsciously change it?
Words don’t change simply by declaration. Words are matters of mutual agreement. Now if you can get everyone to agree that “to be” no longer means “to be,” then you’re still talking about E-Prime, just by different means. Incredibly impractical, nigh comical means, but different means nonetheless. E-Prime is definitely awkward; trying to force a noun-denominated language into a more verb-denominated worldview would pretty much have to be, wouldn’t it? But that’s exactly the challenge, to explore ways of speaking and communicating that enrich rather than deaden our relationship with the living world.