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The Total Library
Immortal since Feb 9, 2010
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Cargo Collective
Reality hacker in search of modern day shamans.
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    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    “I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don’t know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.

    If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”

    George Orwell

    Orwell knew a thing or two, but that people do not care enough to understand what they hear is part of the trouble, that they are so distracted by the immediate sphere of life they do not look beyond their own actions too closely ensures the state of our decay. The truth, or the absense thereof, resides in the action our leaders take. It’s there to see for those who are willing to observe. In a perfect world politicians would speak succinctly, but it isn’t and they certainly do not. And it is because I agree with Orwell’s view of language that I must play devil’s advocate a little.

    Consider this:

    Is it the politician’s fault for using convoluted language so that the citizen cannot easily see the truth or is it the citizen’s fault that he does not pursue clarity in the midst of confusion?

    It is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. If one can transcend the paradox, this mental exercise illustrates that the answer ulitmately does not matter; both are responsible for the existence of the other. And so too is true for the politician and the citizen. It is not enough to begin within as Orwell urges us, we must endeavor to understand what we do not before we can gain the momentum to triumphantly put doublespeak to rest.
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    Socrates said, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." He wasn’t talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth. A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.

    — Ursula K. Le Guin

    Every word we speak resonates with the history of all those who have spoken before us. Residual memories of thoughts, emotions, life and even death become part of an evolving interaction. Language is by no means perfect. It is malleable, relative, and easily abused. As long as there is more than one point of consciousness any form of communication will be flawed at best. Yet there seems to be an indelible force, an inner momentum which moves beyond any misunderstanding or barrier. Words hold a subtle power that stirs the soul. That power is sincerity. It lives inside every moment you speak from the heart. The power is not in those who create abstraction, withhold or obscure information, using language as an end to a means instead of “an end in itself.” Those who are sincere dissolve the facade every time they speak. They restore the integrity of every shared context and widen the path by which the listener can meet them.
    Wed, Feb 17, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: language, Virtue
    Sent to project: The Total Library
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