Saturday, December 08, 2012

Now I Know Nothing That My Mind Can't Create

Speaking of those who hate the constraints of style:

At this moment, I, the writer, and you, the reader, are partaking at a banquet of language that we did not create—a system superimposed on our consciousness. The raw material of our minds is rendered by the symbolic aspect of language, and there is no escaping it; unless one takes psychedelics, descends into madness, attains a hightened non-symbolic spiritual state, or disrupts the historical, psychological superstructure of language.

Breton and the other Surrealists realized that language, its traditional structure (syntax, morphology, semantics and phonology, to varying degrees) and expectations, needed to be destroyed and rebuilt. While the group’s efforts in automatic writing never produced writing as famous as T.S. Elliot “The Wasteland,” for instance, automatism accomplished something far more important: it struck a blow to the politics of language.

By politics of language, it should be taken to mean the inherited system of thought and communication. We are defined by the words we use, yet we had no part in the construction of the system. This word means such and such. This is how one writes a sentence, a paragraph, an essay, a poem, a novel, a letter, etc. What we think is heavily influenced by the signs and signifiers we use in the form of words (to say nothing of visual cues), and when we attempt to express a thought verbally or through the written word, we must again revert to an imposed system to do so.

In his quest for absolute certainty, Descartes noticed that our senses can frequently mislead us. Had he followed that line of thinking a bit further, he might have realized that it's only through further application of those very same senses that we discover our initial mistake and correct it. The real problem was that there's no such thing as absolute anything — certainty, freedom, perfection, whatever. No tool, however useful, can help achieve an impossible, incoherent goal.

I kind of feel the same way in this context. Anarchic gibberish is not the antipode of lies and propaganda.

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