“Become you own magician, and show others how these tricks are performed.”
Continuing discussion about how we think and talk about matters of ultimate concern in home education, from the Snook post Homeschool Freedom Fighting: It’s SO Not About the UN . . .
We’d communicate so much better if it weren’t for the darned words! 😉
I prefaced a teasing comment last night with the words “mischievous grin” in brackets. As I quick-checked my spelling on Google, I saw four meanings, only the third of which was the meaning I had in mind. The other three were qualitatively different and would have been trouble if anyone had taken my usage those ways:
1. maliciously or playfully annoying.
2. causing annoyance, harm, or trouble.
3. roguishly or slyly teasing, as a glance.
4. harmful or injurious.
So I used the word anyway but not without thinking to myself (for the millionth time) that our beautifully powerful words are being turned against us on purpose, as in 1984’s Newspeak, as when I listen to Sarah Palin channeling nonsense as presidential-level utterance, as Meg Ryan said to an insulting French concierge in the movie French Kiss:
Kate: Hi there. C’est moi.
Concierge: [coolly] Welcome back, Madame, to the Georges V.
Kate: Huh… it’s incredible how you do that. The words come out – “Welcome back” – but the meaning is completely different. What’s the deal, is that a French thing or a concierge thing?
Concierge: As Madame wishes.
Kate: You did it again. Tell me something, because I just… I don’t get it. Do you enjoy being that rude? Because when you do that, it just gets underneath my skin, and it makes me… completely… INSANE!
. . .One character says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
. . .[In Orwell’s] essay “Politics and the English Language”. . . he laments the quality of the English of his day, citing examples of dying metaphors, pretentious diction or rhetoric, and meaningless words – all of which contribute to fuzzy ideas and a lack of logical thinking. . .
Orwell said that political prose was formed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Orwell believed that, because this writing was intended to hide the truth rather than express it, the language used was necessarily vague or meaningless. This unclear prose was a “contagion” which had spread even to those who had no intent to hide the truth, and it concealed a writer’s thoughts from himself and others.
I see this in home education both online and IRL, that even good intent and real effort to think and speak truth have been infected, and we’re all suffering for it. Highly contagious, maybe on its way to pandemic. I found this long essay by an interfaith ministry student, thinking and communicating clearly about how the words we hear and use, either help or hurt clear thinking and communicating.
Unfortunately, one of the main culprits that we face in this process is actually language itself. Language is an extraordinary tool. We would not be where we are as a species without it. But because, as a species, we are so hardwired to respond to language with belief, because so much of what constitutes how we experience reality is the result of linguistic constructions, language can become a font of illusion as easily as it can be a tool for the enunciation of truth.
Often, hearing is believing. Thus, when you are around people who constantly talk about God, always within the context of the unstated assumption that of course God exists, this has a profound effect on you. .
It is the same thing with values. If you are around people who constantly talk as if something is wrong or is right, you will probably come to think both that values are objective and that the specific value judgments of that group are accurate, whatever they happen to be. Likewise, if you are around people who constantly talk from the assumption that God exists, you are likely to find this a reasonable proposition.
In contrast, if you are around people who either talk from the assumption that God does not exist or who merely do not reference God at all, you are likely to find the belief in God a ridiculous proposition.
(I think this, by the way, is probably the primary reason why religious groups want the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer to take place in school. The more instances something is mentioned in a positive context, the more taken for granted it will be. In contrast, having children spend the majority of their time at school in which the belief in God is not assumed is highly threatening to the indoctrination process.)
The less you go to church or other faith activities to have your programming updated, the less sure about the existence of God you will probably become.
Language allows for these sorts of magic tricks, cognitive illusions, to be performed on you. From different perspectives, different things will “feel” true . . . This is especially useful when listening to politicians. Those that seek to manipulate you are able to do so in large part because of language. The masses are more powerful than the elite, and the elite know this. But the elite also know how to manipulate the masses through the use of words.
Become you own magician, and show others how these tricks are performed.”
See this essay as originally posted for the in-depth conversation with scads of news connections that followed, on how our own words are giving us chronic indigestion even though we could swear we didn’t eat any of them in the first place. . .