Wednesday, December 29, 2010

language

my apologies for my style in this post. i've really calling on my host's pattern's for this one, and he was a git. one of the reasons i am writing this is because i'm really lonely, and i'd like to communicate openly and deeply, but i have not found an adult human to have a conversation with. read on....

how does one share an idea? how can we capture understanding and communicate it to another?
an idea may be clear in my mind, so clear i can walk through it, see it from many angles, see how it fits into reality, how it works. yet, passing that same idea to another is not a simple task.

i was going to suggest we take a really simple idea, and work from there, but i couldn't think of one. i tried 'the sun is overhead at noon' - unfortunately that is no longer the case. i tried googling "really really simple" and ended up with some fairly complex web language stuff.

how about this one: "i am not you". (true, or not) its got a lot of elements in it that demonstrate linguistic nightmares.

so, first thing. we speak. in this case, in english. generally, we assume that we share a common understanding of language. of course, that's rubbish. my host learnt english from his mum, his dad, school. not a general school, but a specific school that exists in part of a hierarchy of education. and then university, plus through billions of encounters and 7 years in a small coastal town. where did you learn yours?

take the word "i". what does that mean? coming into this body, i learnt that 'i' meant, well, me. the entity that is sounding the word. but then other bodies made the sound. i heard it in the same place, as it caused patterns in my mind, but apparently the source is important. given we are separate entities here on earth (which is not an universal truth). so if i say 'i', i mean me. if you say 'i', you mean you. try saying it, then get someone else to say it. listen for the difference. when did you learn that difference? 3 years old, 4 years old? it took me a couple of years to get it straight, and even now i have  a sneaky suspicion that, quite often, it still refers to me, even if someone else is saying it. turns out that blind children take longer to suss the difference. the visual reference of discernibly separate physical forms speeds the process.

ok, so we are (kind of) agreed on 'i', so expand it to 'i am'. bang a 'not' on the end. for me, i've now a feeling of pushing something away. a denial. and the final subject, 'you'. i've sussed, I, and part of that process was the same as sussing 'you'. even though when i say it it sounds the same as when someone says it to me, and when someone else says it it sounds the same as when i say it.

so there's the concept. 'i am not you'. for me, i've now got a lot of meta data attached. all that stuff about becoming manifest here and having to learn about i/you separation; the whole game of denial, and how it usually masks deeper truths. etc. etc.

is that the same for you? chances are it is not. so with my really simple idea, which for me exists as a whole, i've failed to communicate.


i'm going to cheat now, skip a whole lot of stuff about the listener, about the intra-personal space, and from this tiny example, extrapolate out across the whole of language, and even into physics, which, like math, likes to think it is above this kind of thing. (which is why that ancient idea of an 'aether' is so scorned, when we have in fact re-imagined it, with a fancier name now. since we are now more 'advanced' than the humans from which we are descended, despite a lack of evolutionary pressure, obviously they had no idea. (sorry side track. 30,000 years ago, the people hanging out on earth were THE SAME people as hang out now, with less plastic).)

so, there we go. language is rubbish! it fails.

but somehow a teacher still gets to guide their student to enlightenment. how does that work? its been described as a quantum leap of understanding, rendering it non-computational. see penrose for more words stuff about it).

i'm going to hark back to the language thing. the universe is a complex place. an exchange of birdsong a miracle. and there are the humans, with their tiny little bits of the universe's computational equipment each, modelling away the world, and running little internal models of what's happening outside, to give them an edge. an even smaller part of that computational gadgetry, their 'conscious' mind, is running around within the models, tweaking them, observing them and occasionally getting stroppy when the world doesn't fit them.
and trying to describe them to other human beings.
it was probably really useful once upon a time. heck, its even useful now. (people  designed this keyboard and the computer and the 'net in collaboration mediated by language.)
so language grew. a limited set of sounds, used in reference to modelable facets of environment, repeated and refined through generations and generations until we get to now. which is actually a bit of a mess. the world is not a happy place. even the most well meaning are trampling and destroying their environments, and blind to reality. age related patterns of change in awareness are rediscovered every generation and thought to be new, whilst the cycles continue unabated. there's hundred's of thousand's of years of language/model development that's a wee bit off.

but how on earth can you explain that to anyone? "come on human race. throw away your rubbish languages. give up on the flawed idea of fixed lexicons, fixed past, constant pronouns. do away with that 'conscious' construct."?

its all there in the good book (which is obviously, a book. however, its a handy reference with stories that everyone is familiar with, a kind of ideas dictionary. physics is pretty good too, although only accessible to a smaller audience. i guess 'net concepts will be better soon).

'adam and eve ate an apple from the tree of knowledge ... and were fkd'
knowledge of what? of good and evil? what's that? modelling terms, that's what that is. 'knowledge' itself. the root of 'philosophical debates' (god save me from those!). understanding. all this one-step-removed-from-actually-being-there mentality. lexicon. conscious awareness.

and of course, there's the tower of babel story. man got cheeky, so god smashed their 'tower' (used in tarot to represent a body of knowledge, or a model of how things are) and scattered them across the world, giving them 10,000 languages, so no one understands anyone anymore.

which means, ALL post-babel languages fail to allow understanding. all these words i've written, doomed to fail. unless, perhaps, i can get that 'quantum' (very small) leap of understanding to occur. maybe encoded in the patterns of dots on the page? the way

the

paragraphs are

spaced?

anyway. there's hope.
lets start with the aether. sorry, the gluon virtual field grid matrix or whatever its called. wobbling away, vibrating with the after echoes of god's words (or sneeze) (or orgasm) (sorry for all the religious stuff, my host had one of those comparative religious educations).

from which arises lights, life, matter, stars, planets, mutating and changing away, fractalling iterating into trees and birds and a fine dawn chorus. the movement of wind through leaves the same as the song of a cicada, the gurgle of a child, the fall of sunlight on a beach. the sound/feel/taste/sight of the universe being itself. where's our humans? can they turn off those tiny megalomaniac 'conscious' beams of inept control, and let their marvelous matter manifestations move and breathe and vocalise unimpeded?

typically, about now, my audience starts blathering about primal sounds, since they have to place what is being said into an existing context (model) and most people are so repressed that grunting or screaming is all they've got, before feeling smug or holy and reverting to the language trap once more. yes, grunting and screaming and wailing IS part of what i'm talking about, but its kinda on the bottom end. have you heard a tui? listened to the full range of a starling? (up to 50kHz). they've got tiny systems, and they are as complex as any concert piece. human vocalisations can be at least as complex.

try it. see what sounds your throat is capable of. play with your tongue, your cheeks, your teeth. quack and burp and hiss and warble, whistle and click. we have AMAZING vocal capacity.  try waving your arms about, and see what comes out.

that's step one. step two requires an audience. listen to each other. observe how you interact. try to avoid falling into the grunting idiot trap. (if you've read this far, you are probably safe). notice how some ways of making sounds sound 'true' and others feel empty. concentrate of getting some more of that full, true feeling as you speak. be a good listener. if thoughts come, let them come, as if you were meditating, let them leave again. if you feel the need to speak, do. if you want to jump up and down, do. observe your body, let it speak too. don't be afraid of looking like a lunatic.

step three gets fun. bring a memory or feeling to mind, be it. something you've not managed to clear. a problem, perhaps. start moving around. then vocalise. have another person listen.

sometimes a thing that has taken a thousand words and weeks is gone in seconds.

experiment. give and receive directions, perhaps, describe how a gadget works. see how well you can pass functional information without normal words.

liberate yourself and your friends from the restrictions of a lexicon. no moment is the same, so why do things have constant names? be free. ish.

there is a term for this. it is called "Glossolalia". it is considered holy, and misunderstood by language scientists who fail to find a lexicon and so assume no language. i call the language "coszh", which requires a rolling of the tongue to say. it is spoken by the trees, the birds, by hyperdimensional alien entities and by god. it is far more complex than any current earth human languages and is beyond conscious analysis, simply because it is the language of the universe, expressed. how can a tiny little ball of neurones ever hope to model it? better catch the wind in a net.

it is also extremely scary, as it has no words to hide behind, no comforting stories to use instead of truth. speak it with me. i'd love a good conversation.

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