Lose Your Words

A gentleman reads widely in many books basically in order to augment his innate knowledge. Instead, you have taken to memorizing the words of the ancients, accumulating them in your breast, making this your task, depending on them for something to take hold of in conversation. You are far from knowing the intent of the sages in expounding the teachings. This is what is called counting the treasure of others all day long without having half a cent of your own.

– Ta-hui

I love words, but at the end of the day, that’s really all they are: words. Sounds to which we have assigned arbitrary meanings, and which consequently serve as ironclad cages for ideas, for understanding.

During my time in graduate school, I fiddled frequently with words. As an author, I continue to do so on a daily, even hourly basis. I string them together, like so many polysyllabic beads, to form chains of conceptual jewelry. I’m doing it right now. And they shine. They glimmer and glisten and sparkle. They dance uproariously by the light of my fevered imagination.

But what do they mean? More importantly, do they allow meaning to flourish, or do they kill it where it stands? Not my words, specifically; all words, on all the pages printed, scribed, or etched throughout history. What are these words that tie us down and capture us in our own intellectual mousetraps? Shuttlecocks, all, awaiting indecent aim and an unwary forehead.

Can I give them up? I love them so. They are my children, my brain-children, my intellectual offspring–can I walk away and leave them to starve in the cold? It is painful, excruciatingly painful, impossible. But I must. Words distract from experience, like the photographer who captures only images without ever seeing the world from which he takes them. They categorize, but they do not open our eyes; they define by murdering definition; they identify while obliterating identity.

What the donkey has kicked, the rooster cannot set right. And so I struggle with words. I must treat them as what they are: meaningless, the constructs of a feeble mind unable to deal with the magnitude of experience.

Words. Nothing but words.

Silence.

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3 thoughts on “Lose Your Words

  1. I love words too! Curse words are my favorite. They’re so delicious! Yummy! Seriously, they make me feel good. 🙂 They’re like the Lambada for my mouth, FORBIDDEN!

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