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Towards an Analysis of The Logomachy of Zos
 
 


IX

"Thrice did I slip backwards into strange forms of myself, and thrice did my Soul save me."

"Much is realized that seldom can be expressed and when it might be told-dissolves."

What could possibly be a "strange form of myself"? What is the Soul that it is different from "myself" in any form, strange or otherwise? What are unspeakable ineffable realizations? What could possible be experienced which can't be spoke? If we have no concept with which to make sense of the experience can a thing really be experienced?
The idea that there can be ineffable experiences is one of the foundations of most mysticism. Aleister Crowley, for example, often spoke of the inability to put exalted states gained through meditation into words. Ultimately one breaks into poetry which can only attempt to suggest what one means. In this sense I am on board with the position, something like Samadhi is beyond language because it destroys the very foundational assumptions of language such as that there are subjects and objects, that there is a divide between me and the one with whom I would communicate, that there is any difference between myself, the world, or nothingness etc. You can see how silence would be the best statement, or else we would have to face the curse of a Magus who must always speak in lies. However, I am also wary of this idea as well because often it drives one to rely on the classic cognitive dualism of assuming that there is a special thing that exists in my head called a "thought" or "idea" and it maps onto a thing I put out there in the world called a "word", with the meaning of the word being a thought. On this model it seems obvious that we would have thoughts for which there are a words, right? I, as well as many of the philosopher's of whom I am fond, such as Wittgenstein and Heidegger for example, ultimately find this dualism untenable. Right now go and have a thought for which there is not a word. What did you think? It seems fairly clear to me that concepts are linguistic and/or operational by which I mean we can know how to do things without being able to concisely put it into words, but we can always demonstrate which is a form of articulation. In other words, what we take to be "ideas" are actually derived from words and not the other way around. In general, I reject the entire idea of ideas existing as the hidden heart of language at all.
That being said, I feel for this instance as if I might want to affirm the possibility of ineffable experiences, ala mysticism, while rejecting the idea of ineffable ideas, ala our everyday conception of the mind as a box with ideas in it, where by "ineffable" I simply mean unspeakable. This is also tricky, however, because as my original question should suggest I take language and the conceptual framework it contains to be fundamentally active in our supposedly "sensory" experiences. Our conceptual-linguistic makeup directs our vision, for example. We don't see splotches of red and green and the like, we see books and trees and grass. We see these things because we say these things, because we have already broken up the world and labeled/categorized it into primary/simple and secondary/complex entities and so on. I may see something and not know what it is but I know that it's metal and silver and about this big, or at the very least that it's physical and in my back yard and so on. Radically different conceptual schemes are possible, though, which would leave us with radically different ways of experiencing the world. To refer to the two philosophers I mentioned earlier, Wittgenstein states that a language is a way of life. Everything about the way we live, what we see and experience, how we see and experience it and further what we do with it is wrapped up and contained in our language with language construed broadly to include what, really, is its heart. Namely, the "out there" enworlded engaged activity of speaking in all its many forms. Heidegger likewise asserts that "Language is the house of Being." which means that whatever exists, exists in language, and only insofar as something is in language does it exist.
So, what can be experienced or realized which can not be expressed? Another one of my favorite philosophers, Gadamer, has suggested that we would be better off saying "Language speaks us" rather than "We speak language". Language, as a way of life and as the house of being, has an organic life of its own whereby it grows and changes. Language is what constitutes us as who we are, and so in the process of its change we change and grow to. This occurs slowly, over years or centuries, but perhaps it starts with ineffable experiences. First a grunt and a pointing meaning "That, that...I know not what" but in time we come to something more.


 
 
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