Accompanying podcast: Everything Changes with the Light (with Bo Moore)
Not having names for feelings = not having feelings that match the names.
Fiction conceals the truth by adding an overlay of fantasy. Non-fiction obscures its own fictional nature by presenting mere facts as truth.
He wrestled with the words on the screen. It was literally as if some organism inside him were fighting against an awareness that was struggling to emerge. It was the awareness that language had him as its prisoner, and that it would resist, with everything it had, all his attempts to express that fact through language. Maybe even this was the final, the most advanced strategy of language: to imprison him via his very efforts to use it to get free of it?
What unfathomable cunning! As long as he believed that language offered the means to understand the nature of the matrix he was caught inside, he would continue tinkering away at the edges of the cage, convinced he was slowing wearing down the bars, when really he was only polishing them and making them shine.
And he was getting older with each passing hour. That was the nature of the prison: the mind continued as if it was immortal, whiling away the hours in fantasy realms of abstraction, oblivious—crucially oblivious—to the steady decay of the organism for which time was rapidly running out. And if the mind still held sway, in its eternal illusion of control, when the body died, then what he was—that organic awareness embedded inside the conscious system of existence—would find itself shackled to that hideous linguistic parasite even in death. The monkey would ride his awareness into the next life, and so on, maybe forever, each time its tentacles wrapped a little tighter around his slowly shrinking psyche. The end result would be—what? That an awareness meant to fill infinity would be reduced to a fictional character, printed in grungy black ink on the tightly bound pages of a pulp fiction novel, lost among countless boxes in the dusty attics of eternity.
He would be Philip K. Dicked out of existence, with just enough residual awareness to know it, to remember what he had lost.
But he knew this was circular imagery and made no sense. If it were at all true, he was already inside that box in that attic. This was the residual awareness speaking. This was the fiction. The empire never ended. But by the same token, the battle was always ongoing. The possibility of release was always there. It was only a matter of shifting the attention a micro-millimeter to be free. The prison was his own mind, but the prison was also IN his mind. The idea that the mind imprisoned him (that the mind existed at all) was the thing that kept him prisoner.
The belief that language could define his experience was what defined his experience.
Language and belief were codependent. To believe, we needed to be able to tell ourselves to believe. To be able to apply language at all, we needed to believe in what we were saying. Otherwise, why say it, why think it, at all?
The word blue did not match the color blue. Rationally, he knew this; but still he believed in the meaning of blue. There were a dozen, a hundred, a thousand shades of blue. What he called blue, so the scientists said anyway, was really the absence of blue, that portion of the light spectrum which any given surface reflected back at him, did not absorb. So even perception was the opposite of what we supposed it to be. Consciousness was really unconscious, and that which was most conscious of itself—the body—was unconscious to (and of) him.
Recently he had emerged, more or less, from what he called a full-body depression. There weren’t really words to describe it. He would have to explore all sorts of possible descriptions relating to his childhood, somatic memories, internal physical processes, unconscious currents in his psyche, and so on, to even begin to give an idea of what his experience consisted of. Instead, he slapped a word on, “depression,” as if that covered it. It was a necessary convenience; otherwise, every time someone asked him how he was doing, the only thing he would say would be, “I can’t say.” People didn’t want that sort of honest response. They wanted a formula response. Language had taken over their perceptions, to the extent that it was now running their awareness completely.
It wasn’t that a person asked “How are you?” and required an answer. It was as if language, via any given phrase, used people as hosts to move around, from body to body, and replicate itself that way.
To have feelings and perceptions that could be matched up to language required an internalization of language whereby he had now learned to think about his feelings and perceptions even as he was having them. At this point, there was really no way to separate what he felt or perceived from what he thought—what he languified—about what he felt and perceived. If that didn’t happen, if language wasn’t fully internalized, his experience was likely to be that, when someone asked him to apply language to his feelings and perceptions, he couldn’t. Language didn’t apply unless, or until, he reshaped his feelings and perceptions to fit with it.
This was not something he could explain to anyone, however. It was not so much that they didn’t want to hear it; they couldn’t hear it. Their own internal language program drowned it out. The only response they really heard to the question “How are you?” was “Fine, thanks.” That was the required signal that the language virus had replicated, been passed on, and could carry on its merry way unencumbered. It was the confirmation of the social contract: to be good hosts to the virus.
Not that this was new. Apparently the language that ran his hard drive was especially preoccupied with exposing its own fallibility to him. He appeared to be driven to continue to try and use language to work out, for himself at least, how language couldn’t communicate the truth.
But there was something new emerging, or so it seemed.
It was starting to occur to him that he was essentially being written into existence.
He understood it thus. Language had created an information stream in his body. It was called—by itself—mind. Part of what made the language stream so distracting, so imprisoning, was that there was no corresponding reality in Nature. Language, words, thought, did not correspond with anything in Nature. Of course there were the sounds made by the various animals; but internal language was silent. The closest thing “out there” that it corresponded with was books; and books were made from paper, which was stripped from dead trees. (Maybe this was why the words for tree and truth had the same root?)
He had heard about people who thought in images rather than words—which was presumably what animals did. He imagined that the image stream that flowed through their awareness corresponded, at least some of the time, with objects and phenomena within their environment, both natural and artificial. If so, then there was an organic overlap between the internal “mind space” generated by images and the outer environment of the physical world. Compare that to the boxed off, book-like mind-space created by words in which he existed. Maybe this was what the Fall was all about? Maybe knowledge of good and evil signified the inception of language and the loss of a pure, imagistic awareness in which perception, that which perceived, and whatever was being perceived, was all one seamless, organic whole—like a fruit?
He now understood—because he experienced it viscerally every day—that words were a means to control his perception and confine it.
Once he had internalized the meanings associated with his inherited language, he was susceptible to being controlled.
This was true of images too; it had presumably begun with images, even before he had adopted language. This was the power of advertising—to reach the preverbal bodily awareness that responds to images and to trigger instinctive drives; then to hack into the more surface, languified, conscious awareness of mind, and reprogram it.
Perceptions, sensations, feelings, and emotions—like the animals named by Adam in Eden—were packaged, labeled, branded, and price-tagged in order that he could be turned into an organic vessel (a carrier) for the transporting of goods, both a buyer and a seller of experience.
If his attention was absorbed by an image stream (product line) to the extent he identified with it as himself (his mind), then manipulating those product-images and/or projecting/importing them into his awareness was bound to influence the way he experienced himself, and then how he interacted with his environment. Like the historical dandy, he became a human billboard for the promoting, transporting, and selling of social values. The same applied to words; and words were even easier to control than images.
But who or what was controlling them?
If there was control, then there was that which was being controlled. But did it necessarily mean there was some agency doing the controlling? Or was that only part of the means by which the control remain concealed, unidentified, and unchallenged?