A snowy morning on the lake here in Canada. A beautiful view.
However, as I look outside, I’m thinking about language and how it “takes us away” from meaning. This statement may seem totally illogical but if you think about it like I have this morning, you can’t but come to that conclusion. The more words we add, the further we get away from the meaning, the essence of what we want to say.
Take for example my words above – “A snowy morning on the lake here in Canada.” That’s fine as is BUT if I add to that and describe it more – rather than get a more precise meaning, as I “add”, I “cover” other things up. Words obfuscate, words aren’t enough or are even harmful to communication. There are no words to describe what I see and feel. Perhaps this is why at heart, all true poets are torn and melancholic. Their “words” always fail.
I might tell you about the ripples on the lake. But then my meaning of cold / Canada is diluted. Meaning, kills meaning. Language takes us further away from what we want to say – everything we “say” is translated from the thing itself. Everything is lost in that translation. Words betray us but yet we have to live with them…..
We often associate intelligence with language. The more languages you know, the more intelligent you are. We often equate literacy with language. The preliterate are “primitive” and “slow”. I really think that is false. Language allows us one form of communication but at the expense of even more powerful means of communication. It is the fat lady singing the blues in the room, the umbrella on the operating table, that which gets all the attention but which distracts us from “the thing itself”. Maybe Wittgenstein was right when he said, “Philosophy is language idling”. We need more idling in our own lives.
In teaching – we teach more than words, more than language. I’ll leave it at that. Let’s think about how as a teacher, a language teacher, we teach more than words. Language IS more than words but we rarely think of that……..
Here’s a powerful video clip that says what I want to say, much more clearly (you might even use this in class). Maybe I’ll return and clean this up with fewer words, once I get a coffee in me!