Some stanzas from a series I’m working on about the Tower of Babel and Solomon. From a section on the motif of the Division of Language in the Tower of Babel story.
The idea of language coming apart is a fascinating one no matter how you look at it: mythological, psychological, social, mental.
I have been trying to think through this idea that there is something that a word means and when it stops meaning it the word still exists and still acts as a label for that something which it’s not anymore. Sometimes new words are made for the occasion, but sometimes not. Sometimes words are borrowed to understand what they were never intended to. This is the problem of the sign and its referent, whatever that means.
Words are planted, and grow, and do not stop growing. When I mean words here I also mean phrases, ideas, thoughts, ways of thinking.
The problem of language is the problem with the engine stalling out or the microscope that cannot see all the way down. When there’s no other way of saying something we must say it the way it sounds though it may not be how we meant it. We’re locked tidally to the manner of the language that’s spoken, just as we cannot know beyond our science without some hoping. So build it up and out. Fine tune instruments. Build them large without and more precise within, so we can mean only what we mean, and no more then. Tomorrow we cure through technology death and disease and reverse entropy by taking measurements absolutely accurately. Today we say something knowing full well it is not what we mean, to know it ourselves, so it may come to look like what it seems.