This nOde last updated September 17th, 2005 and is
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1. a. The use by human beings of voice sounds, and often written symbols representing these sounds, in organized combinations and patterns in order to express and communicate thoughts and feelings. b. A system of words formed from such combinations and patterns, used by the people of a particular country or by a group of people with a shared history or set of traditions.
2. a. A nonverbal method of communicating ideas, as by a system of signs, symbols, gestures, or rules: the language of algebra. b. Computer Science. A system of symbols and rules used for communication with or between computers.
3. Body language; kinesics.
4. The special vocabulary and usages of a scientific, professional, or other group: "his total mastery of screen language-camera placement, editing-and his handling of actors" (Jack Kroll).
5. A characteristic style of speech or writing: Shakespearean language.
6. a. Abusive, violent, or profane utterance: "language that would make your hair curl" (W.S. Gilbert). b. A particular manner of utterance: gentle language.
7. The manner or means of communication between living creatures other than human beings: the language of dolphins.
8. Verbal communication as
a subject of study.
9. The wording of a legal document or statute as distinct from the spirit.
[Middle English, from Old French langage, from langue, tongue, language, from Latin lingua.]
language (làng´gwîj), systematic communication by vocal symbols. It is a universal characteristic of the human species. The earliest forms of language known are no more "primitive" than modern forms. Because language is a cultural system, individual languages classify objects and ideas differently. There are some 6,500 spoken languages, but about 2,000 have fewer than 1,000 speakers. The smallest have only a few members; the largest, in approximate descending order based on the number of native speakers, are North Chinese vernacular (Mandarin), English, Spanish, Hindustani, Bengali, Arabic, Russian, and Portuguese. Differences within languages are DIALECTS. Languages change continuously, but various factors, especially literacy, lead to the development of a community's standard language, usually one dialect, e.g., London English. Literary and colloquial standards may differ, and a group jargon may be unintelligible to outsiders; the differences are primarily in vocabulary. Groups of related languages are called families and stocks.
Communications and Media, 2500 B.C.E.
The Sumerians develop a cuneiform script alphabet of some 600 simplified signs. They have earlier developed a written language using thousands of picture-signs, or ideograms, as in the Gilgamesh legend of 3000 B.C.E., and the new alphabet is based on those ideograms.
"For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk." - Stephen Hawking sampled in track _Keep Talking_ by Pink Floyd off of _The Division Bell_
re: language: "Like a finger
pointing at the moon,
once we see the moon, the finger becomes irrelevant."
The bait is the means to get the fish where you want
catch the fish and you forget the bait.
The snare is the means to get the rabbit where
you want it,
catch the rabbit and forget the snare.
Words are the means to get the idea where you
catch on to the idea and you forget about the words.
Where shall I find a man who forgets about words,
and have a word with him?
- Chuang Tzu
In summary; thoughts of the brain are experienced by us as arrangements and rearrangements - change - in a physical universe; but in fact it is really information and information-processing which we substantialize. We do not merely see its thoughts as objects, but rather as the movement, or, more precisely, the placement of objects: how they become linked to one another. But we cannot read the patterns of arrangement; we cannot extract the information in it - i.e. it as information, which is what it is. The linking and relinking of objects by the Brain is actually a language but not a language like ours (since it is addressing itself and not someone or something outside itself).
We should be able to hear this information, or rather narrative, as a neutral voice inside us. But something has gone wrong. All creation is a language and nothing but a language, which for some inexplicable reason we can't read outside and can't hear inside. So I say, we have become idiots. Something has happened to our intelligence. My reasoning is this: arrangement of parts of the Brain is a language. We are parts of the Brain; therefore we are language. Why, then, do we not know this? We do not even know what we are, let alone what the outer reality is of which we are parts. The origin of the world "idiot" is the word "private." Each of us has become private, and no longer shares the common thought of the Brain, except at a subliminal level. Thus our real life and purpose are conducted below our threshold of consciousness.
- Philip K. Dick - _VALIS_
Language is aprocess
of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in
which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely
varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of
Noam Chomsky (b. 1928), U.S. linguist, political analyst. "Language and Freedom," lecture, Jan. 1970, delivered at Loyola University, Chicago (published in For Reasons of State, 1973).
Man acts as though he were
the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), German philosopher. "Building Dwelling Thinking," lecture, 5 Aug. 1951 (published in Poetry, Language, Thought, 1971).
Syntax and vocabulary are
overwhelming constraints-the rules that run us. Language is using us to
talk-we think we're using the language, but language is doing the thinking,
we're its slavish agents.
Harry Mathews (b. 1930), U.S. novelist. City Limits (London, 26 May 1988).
The word of man is the most durable of all material.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher. Parerga and Paralipomena, vol. 2, ch. 25, sct. 298 (1851).
Language is a part of our
organism and no less complicated than it.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Notebooks 1914-1916, entry for 14 May 1915 (ed. by Anscombe, 1961; later reformulated in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sêct. 4:002, 1921, tr. 1922). Also published in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sct. 4:002 (1921; tr. 1922), "Everyday language is a part of the human organism and is no less complicated than it."
A quick look at Western civilization over the past several hundred years suggests we are indeed moving toward the concrescence. The twentieth century has only accelerated the process of increasing novelty and the dissolving of old boundaries. In our own time, we have created ever more elaborate languages and ever more elaborate technologies for transforming, storing, and retrieving language, so that we are now on the brink of being able to give every single person the complete cultural inventory, the complete data base of human beings' experience on this planet. It's as if the collectivity of our humanness has finally become an intellectual legacy for all of us. That's what these data highways and networks are all about. Thenervous system is being hardwired. This is not only an advance deeper and deeper into novelty, but it is an advance in which each successive stage occurs more quickly than the stage which preceded it.
McKenna - _Timewave
Zero And Language_
10 Most Widely Spoken Languages:
Language Est. number of speakers
1. Chinese (Mandarin)
2. English 508,000,000
3. Hindustani 497,000,000
4. Spanish 392,000,000
5. Russian 277,000,000
6. Arabic 246,000,000
7. Bengali 211,000,000
8. Portuguese 191,000,000
9. Malay-Indonesian 159,000,000
10. French 129,000,000
Based upon a 1998 survey. Additionally there are three other languages that are spoken by more than 100 million people each: German (128 million), Japanese (126 million), and Urdu (105 million).
"I am you, you are me, with language, we are three" - Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
"Other intelligent monkeys have walked this planet. We exterminated them and so now we are unique, but what is loose on this planet is language, self-replicating information systems that reflect functions of DNA: learning, coding, templating, recording, testing, retesting, recoding against DNA functions. Then again, language may be a quality of an entirely different order. Whatever language is, it is in us monkeys now and moving through us and moving out of our hands and into the noosphere with which we have surrounded ourselves."
"Information is loose on planet three. Something
unusual is going on here. The world is not made of quarks, electromagnetic
wave packets, or the thoughts of god. The world is made of language.
Language is replicating itself in DNA,
which, at the evolutionary
apex, is creating societies of civilized beings that possess languages and machines
that use languages. Earth is a place where language has literally become
alive. Language has infested matter; it is replicating and defining
and building itself. And it is in us. My voice speaking is a monkey's
mouth making little mouth noises that are carrying agreed-upon meaning, and
it is meaning that matters. Without the meaning one has only little mouth
noises. Meaning is a crude form of telepathy - as you listen to my voice,
my thoughts become your thoughts and we compare them. This is communication,
is a domain of codes, and that is why the UFO
problem is like a grammatical problem - like a dangling participle in the fourth-dimensional
language that makes reality. It eludes simple approaches because its nature
is somehow embedded in the machinery of epistemic knowing itself."
"This dualism of the interior and the exterior may have to be overcome. It obviously transcends the individual. But I suspect it is something like an Overmind of the species and the highest form of human organization is not realized in the democratic individual. It is realized in a dimension none of us has ever penetrated - the mind of the species. It is the hand at the tiller of history. It is no government, no religious group, but actually what we call the human unconscious; however, it is not unconscious, and it is not simply a cybernetic repository of myth andmemory. It is an organized entelechy of some sort, and though human history is its signature on the primates, it is very different from the primates. It is like a creature of pure information. It is made of language. It is releases ideas into the flowing stream of history to boost the primates toward higher and higher levels of self-reflection. We have now reached the point where the masks are beginning to fall away and we are discovering that there is an angel within the monkey, struggling to get free. This is what the historical crisis is all about. I am very optimistic. I see it as a necessary chaos that will lead to a new and more attractive order.
"Like theoctopus, our destiny is to become what we think, to have our thoughts become our bodies and our bodies become our thoughts. This is the essence of a more perfect Logos, a Logos not heard but beheld. Virtual Reality can help here, for electronics can change vocal utterance into visually beheld colored output in the virtual reality. This output can then be manipulated, by tools still uncreated, tools to be found in the kit of the VR hacker/mechanic soon to be. This means that a three dimensional syntax, one that is seen, not heard, becomes possible as an experience in VR. You may ask, What is the point of being able to see one's voice, even in virtual reality? The point is that others will be able to see it as well, that the ambiguity of invisible meanings that attends audio speech is replaced by the unambiguous topology of meanings beheld. At last we will truly see what we mean. And we will see what others mean too, for cyberspace will be a dimension where anything that can be imagined can be made to seem real.
"When we are in the act of seeing what is meant, the communicator and the one communicated with become as one. In other words, the visible languages possible in VR will overcome the subject/object dualism as well as the Self/Other dualism."
-Terence McKenna - _The Archaic Revival_
"Language is a virus from outer space." - William S. Burroughs
"Man has held the notion that language is a mystery since very early times..."
"Speech is the greatest interest and most distinctive achievement of man."
Wiener, founder of the science of Cybernetics
In a lot of ways music, to me, becomes a sort of virus. It carries information. There's a resonance between what Greg Bear was talking about (in _Blood Music_) with how the cells began to mutate rapidly, and for me, samples and people's memories begin to absorb and refract. How like what you heard as a child sort of becomes this embedded memory, and then you kind of slowly remix it out into your own creation as you go.
The same with language, I mean Burroughs would always say that "language is a virus". I think sampling is it's own language. For example, I'm looking at a small wall of records, that's thousands of people right there, their compressed actions, emotions, thoughts all in the space of four feet, that's it - it's right there. I think that a great motto for it comes from the movie _Videodrome_ (directed by David Cronenberg): "Long live the New Flesh".
- DJ Spooky
The trick of the game, or so it seems to me, is to go from human language into hyperlanguage, where every object is itself and simultaneously conflated with the universal, a place where words do not divide, but rather, implicitly reflect consciousness back toward an underlying unity of being. It may be that Enochian has this capability; I know that poets reach toward this Eschaton in their own use of their confined words, and - occasionally - strike their mark.
A few of the words from this century have had a particularly magical effect, words like "Noosphere" and "Gaia" and "Global Village" in actuality announced and pronounced something into being. Each may have existed before these words had been articulated, but none could be seen, even though they might be completely self-evident. Language shapes perception completely.
Words do make the world. This is the basic teaching of all the magical traditions I've encountered; each takes a different approach to broadening the lexicon of the postulant. The koan uses words to tie knots in reason and frees the being for a greater revelation than common sense will allow; the mage meditates on the names of his allies, and invokes them into form; the kabbalist contemplates the Tetragrammaton and sees the godhead as the vowels behind the prison walls of the consonants YHVH. The Eschatologist searches for the word which sums everything and integrates the cosmos into a singularity.
That we can even contemplate such a thing means it likely does exist. So we wait, mouths open, babbling a nonsense stream of glossalia, listening for angels' tongues.
- Mark Pesce Visiting Professor of Interactive Media School of Cinema-Television University of Southern California
I think that this glossolalia is probably mixed up with the generation of language itself. In other words, we probably invented language long before meaning, and it was some very practical person who got the idea that the words could have meaning.
Before that, language was primarily verbal amusement. After all, the most readily at hand musical instrument is the human voice. Sound is an incredibly powerful transducer of energy that we haven't really come to terms with. When we put a test tube in which a chemical reaction is going on, into a square wave generator and bombard it with very high amplitude sounds, we find that these sounds drive the chemical reaction faster, as if sound were an enzyme. When people are loaded to the gills on ayahuasca, they do the same thing. They sing for hours and sonically drive these states, navigating through a world of vocal landscapes that come forth from sound.
- Terence McKenna - _Timewave Zero and Language_
Why do we have language, a complex culture and such an enormous brains? Theseevolutionary developments did not come cheap. We can speak only because our neck, mouth and brain have been completely restructured. In proportion to our body mass, our brain is three times as large as that of our nearest relatives. This huge organ is dangerous and painful to give birth to, expensive to build and, in a resting human, uses about 20 per cent of the body's energy even though it is just 2 per cent of the body's weight. There must be some reason for all this evolutionary expense.
- Susan Blackmore - _Meme, Myself & I_
Literacy is finished. It was a phase. It's not to be preserved by anyone other than curators. The rest of us are going to live, obviously, in a culture shaped by new forms of media.
- Terence McKenna - _The Evolutionary Mind_
_International Language_ by Cabaret Voltaire (1993)
Well it's the vehicle but eventually there's no road and you have to park the vehicle and get out and walk, and that's the journey. Plotinous, the great Neo Platonist has this wonderful phrase. He calls the mystical experience "the flight of the alone to the alone." I love this image. It's so uncompromising and it's about as true as something can be and still move in the realm of language, because it's saying: finally words fall away and finally there is only that which cannot be said. Many of you who've stuck with me know that I love to quote this poem by this obscure poet who died in the trenches in France in the first World War, Trumble Stickney, and he wrote a poem called "Meaning's Edge" and the punch line goes like this "I look over meaning's edge and feel the dizziness of the things you have not said," and I think that every one of these weekends, this is the effort - to carry you to the edge of an abyss and then push you over into the dizziness of the things unsaid and they will always be unsaid.
Wittgenstein had the concept of the unspeakable. He said "philosophy operates in the realm of the unspeakable but eventually we must confront that which cannot be said." The dizziness of things unsaid, and there's where real authenticity then flows back into the world of community and speech but it comes from a place of utter silence and unsayability. How could it be otherwise? What hubris would it be to expect that the small-mouthed noises of English could encompass being. That's a primary error that all philosophy chooses to make at the beginning of it's enterprise in order to set up shop at all. No, these are lower-dimensional slices of a reality that is ultimately unitary, ineffable, unspeakable, and dazzling.
- Terence McKenna lecture on Alchemy
"It's a mysterious business, creating worlds out of words." - Ursula K. Le Guinn
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. Speech is man's most confused and egocentric expression, his most orderly and magnanimous utterance is music." - Ned Rorem
pop entity Cocteau Twins
They were named after an old Simple Minds song first called _Cocteau Twins_, then renamed to _No Cure_. All this was inspired by a set of twins that spoke a language they created that sounded like gibberish to everyone else.
poetry hip hop track _Coded Language_ MP3 (192k) by Saul Williams off of _Amethyst Rock Star_ (2001)
Whereas, breakbeats have been the missing link
connecting the diasporic
Community to its drum
Whereas the quantised drum has allowed the whirling mathematicians to Calculate the ever changing distance between rock and stardom.
Whereas the velocity of spinning vinyl, cross-faded, spun backwards, and re-released at the same given moment of recorded history,
yet at a Different moment in time's continuum has allowed history to catch up with The present.
We do hereby declare reality unkempt by the
changing standards of dialogue.
Statements, such as, "keep it real"
especially when punctuating or Anticipating modes of ultra-violence inflicted psychologically or physically
Or depicting an unchanging rule of events will hence forth be seen as Retro-active and not representative of the individually determined is.
Furthermore, as determined by
the collective consciousness of this state of Being
and the lessened distance between thought patterns and their secular Manifestations,
the role of men as listening receptacles is to be increased By a number no less than 70 percent of the current enlisted as vocal Aggressors.
Motherfuckers better realize, now is the time
We have found evidence that hip hop standard 85 rpm
when increased by a Number as least half the rate of it's standard
or decreased at three quarters of its Speed
may be a determining factor in heightening consciousness.
Studies show that when a given norm is changed
in the face of the Unchanging,
the remaining contradictions will parallel the truth.
Equate rhyme with reason, Sun with season
Our cyclical relationship to phenomenon has
encouraged scholars to erase the Centers of periods,
thus symbolizing the non-linear character of cause and Effect
Your current frequencies
of understanding outweigh that which as been given For you to understand.
The current standard is the equivalent of an adolescent restricted to the Diet of an infant.
The rapidly changing body would acquire dysfunctional and deformative Symptoms
and could not properly mature on a diet of apple sauce and crushed Pears
Light years are interchangeable with years of living in darkness.
The role of darkness is not to be seen as, or equated with, Ignorance, but
With the unknown, and the mysteries of the unseen.
Thus, in the name of:
ROBESON, GODSON, HURSTON, AHKENATON, HATHSHEPUT, BLACKFOOT, HELEN, LENNON, KHALO, KALI, THE THREE MARIAS, TARA, LILITHE, LOURDE, WHITMAN, BALDWIN, GINSBERG, KAUFMAN, LUMUMBA, GHANDI, GIBRAN, SHABAZZ, SIDDHARTHA, MEDUSA, GUEVARA, GURDJIEFF, RAND, WRIGHT, BANNEKER, TUBMAN, HAMER, HOLIDAY, DAVIS, COLTRANE, MORRISON, JOPLIN, DUBOIS, CLARKE, SHAKESPEARE, RACHMNINOV, ELLINGTON, CARTER, GAYE, HATHOWAY, HENDRIX, KUTI, DICKERSON, RIPPERTON, MARY, ISIS, TESLA, PLATH, RUMI, FELLINI, MICHAUX, NOSTRADAMUS, NEFERTITI, LA ROCK, SHIVA, GANESHA, YEMAJA, OSHUN, OBATALA, OGUN, KENNEDY, KING, FOUR LITTLE GIRLS, HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI, KELLER, BIKO, PERONE, MARLEY, COSBY, SHAKUR, THOSE THAT BURN, THOSE STILL AFLAMED, AND THE COUNTLESS UNNAMED
We claim the present as the pre-sent, as the
We are unraveling our navels so that we may ingest the sun.
We are not afraid of the darkness, we trust that the moon shall guide us.
We are determining the future at this very moment.
We now know that the heart is the philosophers' stone
Our music is our alchemy
We stand as the manifested equivalent of 3 buckets of water and a hand full Of minerals,
thus realizing that those very buckets turned upside down
Supply the percussion factor of forever.
If you must count to keep the beat then count.
Find your mantra and awaken your subconscious.
Carve your circles counterclockwise
Use your cipher to decipher, Coded Language, man made laws.
Climb waterfalls and trees, commune with nature, snakes and bees.
Let your children name themselves and claim themselves as the new day
for Today we are determined to be the channelers of these changing frequencies Into songs,
paintings, writings, dance, drama, photography, carpentry, Craft, love, and love.
We enlist every instrument: Acoustic, electronic.
Every so-called gender, race, and sexual preference.
Every per-son as beings of sound to acknowledge their responsibility
to Uplift the consciousness of the entire
Any utterance will be un-aimed, will be disclaimed - two rappers slain
Any utterance will be un-aimed, will be disclaimed - two rappers slain
(A blonde woman is talking in her office)
Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration, and this is where I think language came from. It came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival. Like the word water, we came up with a sound for that, or saber tooth tiger right behind you, we came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing. What is frustration? Or what is anger? Or love? When I say love, the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person's ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain, through their memories of love, or lack of love, and they register what I'm saying and they say yes, they understand. But how do I know they understand, because words are inert, they're just symbols, they're dead, you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable. And yet, you know when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we've connected, and we think that we're understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it's what we live for.
- _Waking Life_ directed by Richard Linklater
Interview with Grant Morrisson, author of _The Invisibles_
THE PULSE: You said you view some of the world's greatest religions like sci-fi. Howso? Or is it just some religions that are like sci-fi?
MORRISON: Imagine a new technology which allowed ideas to be somehow grasped from the air, transformed into symbols and recorded on stone or papyrus. When gazed upon by an educated person, these images would then transform themselves magically into consistent sounds in the head.
We're so familiar with written language that we sometimes forget how outlandish a concept it must have seemed to our ancestors. Writing allowed people to copy and transfer their thoughts and their tribal codes of conduct to others, even unto generations they themselves would not live to personally instruct, affect or control. The words themselves must have seemed alive and immortal and as "holy" as ghosts. Written law was thus a way of mastering time and influencing the future, a weapon greater than fire and steel, I hope you'll agree. When read, the written word made the head buzz and ring and fill up with voices and commands from nowhere, as if god himself had come thundering down through the symbols, off the page and into the room, fertilising and impregnating the mind with his Ghostly, unmistakable presence.
So god (ie yahweh, jehovah, allah) always watching us, always judging, is, I believe, a living concept which emerged along with the early development of alphabets, to prey on developing human minds. In return for providing a lush spawning ground, the "God" meme rewards the human mind with simple satisfying but ultimately incomplete explanations regarding its place in a complex and frightening universe. What the three "Religions of the Book" call "god," I call a virulent and hard-to-kill memetic structure finding its perfect technological carrier medium at a critical time in the history of humanity.
The wholly masculine "god" of the monoreligions is a personification of written law and its strange effect on our brains. "He" is the cop in the head who constantly checks our behavior to ensure that we don't step too far beyond the limits our culture has established and expected us to internalise. "He" demands obedience and the performance of irrational rituals in "His" name. We've got so used to that hectoring critical voice in our heads and have so many new explanations for it that most of us don't call it "god" anymore and churches are emptying.