Futile Speech

“Goethe did not always agree with his own evaluation of the word.  ‘We talk,’ he wrote in middle life, ‘far too much… The more I think of it, there is something futile, mediocre, even (I am tempted to say) foppish about speech.  By contrast how the gravity of Nature and her silence startle you, when you stand face to face with her, undistracted, before a barren ridge or in the desolation of the ancient hills.’  We can never dispense with language and the other symbol systems; for it is by means of them, and only by their means, that we have raised ourselves above the brutes, to the level of human beings.  But we can easily become the victims as well as the beneficiaries of these systems.  We must learn how to handle words effectively; but at the same time we must reserve and, if necessary, intensify our ability to look at the world directly and not through that half-opaque medium of concepts, which distorts every given fact into the all too familiar likeness of some generic label or explanatory abstraction.”

-Aldous Huxley “The Doors of Perception”

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~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on December 11, 2008.

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