The Unreality of Language
As hard as this may be to comprehend, words are not real. Words do not exist in nature. Words are mental constructs, figmants of the imagination, and have absolutely no basis from or upon reality. Do not confuse words and language for communication, for they are different things. Communication is very real, but words and language are not. Animals can communicate with each other and us without once resorting to language, and the human race communicated with itself for hundreds of thousands of years before a single word was ever uttered. Words and language are abstract and artificial entities, yet are the very foundation of human culture, our literature, religion, philosophy, politics, science, and so on. So what does this say about human culture? Is it also artificial? Of course it is! But to acknowledge this is to surrender everything we've ever been taught is important and meaningful (remember, "importance" and "meaning" are only words with no natural counterpart). Some may contend that by surrendering one is left with either chaos or the void, but this is not the case ("chaos" and "void" are only words with no natural counterpart). One is left only with reality, perhaps for the first time in his-or-her life.
Here's the problem in a nutshell: When we use language we're using words and phrases and sentences that (1) society has imbued with artificial meaning, and (2) we subjectify this meaning according to our own personal use, interpretation, and cultural bias. This means the words we use to describe reality have no correlation whatsoever with the “real” reality. All reality is superceded by language, which is to say the moment we talk about anything we are no longer contending with reality. We have replaced reality with interior mental constructs that are in and of themselves inefficacious and impotent.
Human language is not reality. Language is an artifical invention. Conceptually, language may seem an approximation of reality, but this notion only works as long as the words used have a direct counterpart to something 'out there' in the real world. Through cultural conditioning, human beings have become so enmeshed in the use of language they have essentially mistaken the road map—with its legends and diagrams and colors and arrows—for the road, or worse, believe the roadmap is more 'real' than the road ever was.
So if we're not talking about reality when we speak, what are we talking about? The fact is we're not talking about anything since the words we're using do not really exist! They are simply products of the mind, interior electro-chemical impulses and nothing more. When we speak we are simply making gutterul grunts and pharyngeal sighs that are just so much noise, while words on a billboard or street sign or in a book are crooked shapes composed of ink or paint and that's all they are. It is our minds that imbue these shapes and sounds with meaning and interior interpretation because 'meaning' and 'interpretation' aren't nature occurrences.
When we talk or write or read we are merely partaking in 'language-games' (see Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) whose pieces are composed of artifical meanings that circle and fold back on themselves to derive additional meanings, and so on ad infinitum. The great physcist Niels Bohr realized this and found it deeply disturbing. What led him to question the very nature of langauge itself were his attempts to describe the underlying nature of quantum reality and his realization he could not. His language-game simply could not be made to fit the behavior of quantum physics, as Bohr discovered that quantum theory does not allow for the existence of independent elements of reality since the observed and observer are inexplicably intertwined. Albert Einstein objected deeply to this notion, saying: “I refuse to believe that the moon does not exist when we don’t observe it.”
But Einstein's objection could not stand upon the discovery and verification of Bell’s Theorem which states: “No physical theory of local hidden variables can ever reproduce all of the predictions of quantum mechanics.” Of course, many will argue that language breaks down and becomes meaningless on the quantum level, but in the 'ordinary world'—the macro world regulated by classical Newtonian physics, language serves as a decent-enough working tool that allows us to not only construct a model of our reality, but to communicate a representation of that model. However, just as physics divides the world into objects in interaction so too does the mind partition experience into concepts bounded by thought. Our language 'grabs' things and represents them as nouns or 'objects' in our minds, but the model constructed is not what is actually 'out there' since out there there is no language. There are only sounds and shapes, shades and shadows.
Think of a baby in a crib. The baby has yet to form language in its brain. A small bird flies through the open window of the baby’s room. The baby squeals with delight at the incredible thing it is observing! It has no verbal definition for what is, what this thing is, what is occuring, only that it's simply wonderful! In time the baby’s mother will teach him “That’s a bird! A bird!” at which point the word 'bird' will become the dominant association with the former wonderful experience and become something dull and 'known'. Despite all its discussion and interpretation, the word 'bird' cannot possibly describe the reality of what a bird really is, or a billion other birds, if at all. From the that point on, the child becomes ensnared in a lesser, more artifical reality. When he or she thinks of a bird or says 'bird' the child has a greater association with the definition and the word than the unfolding of natural reality. Most believe that naming something makes it what it is, encapsulates it, explains it, but It doesn't. In fact, the definition of anything is so far removed from reality as to be totally meaningless.
This idea of 'meaninglessness' gets even worse when we consider more abstract concepts—fully internalized words and ideas that have no correlating associate in the exterior 'real' world. Think about the word 'the' or 'God' or 'about'. They’re utter abstractions and only have the meaning we've invented for them. When we speak, we use all of our baseless, abstract words to tie together words that we suppose congeal to create an accurate representation of physical reality, but this is not the case. Each of us interprets reality based on various meanings supplied by our personal language-games and the degree to which we empower those language-games with perceived value (e.g., do you think fighting for 'God' or 'Freedom' or 'The War on Terror' has greater importance than your own life?). Since each of us interprets reality based on our own unique language-games, the result of all our talk is really meaningless babble about nothing. We think we're communicating, but communication actually breaks down the moment we endow words to possess greater worth then unvoiced reality. Ludwig Wittgenstein had in mind when he concluded: "My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless." In The Day the Universe Changed James Burke, writing about scientific knowlege, further explains: “Knowledge acquired through the use of any structure is selective. There are no standards or beliefs guiding the search for knowledge which are not dependent on structure. Scientific knowledge, in sum, is not necessarily the clearest representation of what reality is ... Discovery in invention. Knowledge is man-made." No matter how we slice it we are always working with a structure that is 'suspended' in artifical language, making the structure itself artificial.
Now you might say: “Okay, okay, so our words and their meanings do not really reflect reality. Well, at least we have some meaning—the meaning we invent for ourselves.” But there is a huge problem with that as well. This is an assumption based on Rene Descartes' famous cogito ergo sum statement: “I think, therefore I am.” The problem here is that Descartes was wrong.
Descartes made an unsupportable and false assumption. He assumed there was a subjective 'I' distinct from the verb 'think', but since this 'I' cannot be proven to exist or to not exist removed from thought itself, relying on Descartes just affirms more meaninglessness. In fact, the notion of a separate 'I' somehow removed from physical existence is simply a linguistic illusion, as are the notions of believing reality can be partitioned with words or that words can both explain and defend supernatural/mystical/religious realms. Part of the reason we have the persistent and extremely tricky illusion that abstract notions exist is our mental 'suspension' in the unreality of language. If we could somehow untangle ourselves from the trap of modeling everything we know through language-games, we would find ourselves experiencing reality as human-kind has experienced it for hundreds of thousands of years, unencumbered from artifice of words.
To this end it must be said that if you are relying on words in order to 'find' yourself or find meaning or truth, or to validate yourself, or to empower your experience to a greater reality, you are embracing what is artificial and ultimately meaningless. You can't point at a collection of words and think you are pointing at reality. Reality is experienced in the absence of language, through the surrendering of words and not through them. You can't 'quote' reality as a scripture and verse. You must first put away the words, all words, even these words, and especially any words you hold in highest esteem or revere as sacred.
Whoever has ears to hear, let he-or-she hear, and then let he-or-she hear nothing.
Shamelessy Cribbed from Ken Korczak
And so these words, here, are inherently meaningless. All the words on this web site are just as meaningless. Why? Because words are mental constructs, they are purely artificial, and do not exist in nature. The terms 'meaning' and 'meaninglessness' exist only inside of language and are not natural. 'Meaning' is not a property or attribute of the world, but a contrivance of the mind. This is true of all other words as well, even these words which assert 'This is true of all words as well'. Speech and writing are artificial, although communication is not. Communication is a natural activity which may (or may not) utilize sounds, sights, and touch, while language is artificial, symbolic, and abstract. Communication is physical, while language is mental.
While I can point to a "tree" in the real world and I can point to a " rock" in the real world, or a dog, or a fire, or an atom in an electron microscope, the only place I'm able to point to "God" or "Heaven" or the "Soul" are...where? Only as words in books, because ideas like God or Heaven or Soul exist by definition alone and are not based on anything measurable or falsifiable. They rely on subsets of other abstract definitions in order to be 'known' and cannot be known outside these definitions. Religious ideas, supernatural ideas, mystical and occult ideas exist by way of definition alone and vanish in the absence of language. Trees and rivers and rocks don't disappear in silence, but gods and ghosts and demons do (only to re-appear again whenever mouths or books are opened) and so much more than these. Even history, literature, philosophy, science, and politics will all melt away when language is removed. Where is Plato outside the book? Where is Jesus? Muhammad? Postmodernism? Critical theory? Culture needs language to operate, so what does this 'mean' about culture if language is artificial? What does this 'mean' about us and the way we live our lives (or is it the other way around)?
When a person claims that 'God is all-powerful or 'God is all-knowing' or 'Heaven or Hell await us when we die', was this information derived from direct interaction with the physical world or from language alone? If I remove language I can still point to my face, I can still point to a tree, but I am unable to point to God or even the the terms used to define God's attributes (e.g., Omniscient, Omnipotent). In other words, God is defined by terms that exist themselves only by way of definition, as mental constructs, and not as anything mensurable in the real world. God, therefore, is only a word and literally 'defined' into existence. Where can God be found outside of language (or Heaven, or Hell, or Angels, or the Soul, or Life-After-Death)?
Saying 'God is all-knowing' is as meaningful, therefore, as saying 'Galfaloon is Omni-Spritely' since in both cases the subject and object rely on interior definitions alone to be known (i.e., neither 'God' nor 'all-knowing' or 'Galfaloon' nor 'Omni-Spritely' are found anywhere outside of abstract language). What an ingenious trap! Using subsets of artificial terms to argue the character of other artificial terms (akin, perhaps, to molding an idol out of clay and giving it made-up attributes then calling the idol a representation of God and its attributes God's attributes).
This is the counterfeit nature of language, since all subjects and objects rely on artificial subsets for definition.
Language, therefore, is an imaginary patterning system we use to point to-and-from ourselves, each other, other things in the universe, and things that exist only in the mind as subsets of language. It makes no difference whether we're talking/writing about Creationism ("Intelligent Design") or Evolution ("Darwinism"), since the language involved in both cases is part of the same imaginary patterning system. The arguments used to defend Creationism and the arguments used to defend Evolution both consist of words that do not exist in the real world. Words are not natural. Words are symbolic components used in the imaginary patterning system and symbolic components do not exist . Words are not real.
The important issue here isn't whether someone is arguing from a religious point-of-view or a scientific point-of-view, a liberal point-a-view or a conservative point-a-view, a Christian point-of-view or an atheist point-of-view, but that irrespective of the words chosen the world simply exists, untouched and unchanged by the discussion. A hundred billion words exchanged will never make a scientific theory into physical reality nor will it produce a spirit, a miracle, an angel, or life-after-death. The world, the universe, all the various things that make up the universe simply are, while language is an imaginary patterning system we lay over things to interpret them and invest them with meaning (although 'meaning' is purely conceptual and does not exist in the real world). When we imagine the world to be one way or the other—e.g., whether natural or supernatural—it's as if we are looking through language and symbols to see the world, then mistake our language and symbols to be the world. Language and symbols are not the world. The world precedes all language and symbols. The world simply is.
— L. Ron Hubbard
Lecture 04, September 1951: Illusion
Analogy of the Doorway
All this might be further demonstrated by another example.
Imagine you're stranding in the doorway of your house looking out at the world (both the house door and screen door are wide open). Everything you see in front of you is precisely as you see it. Nothing has been yet defaced by definition or interpretation. Now close the screen door. You can still see the world, but you're looking at it through the screen, through mesh, through a perfectly detailed grid composed of a hundred thousand cells. It is tempting to pick out one of those cells and compare what you see with what you can see in a neighboring cell or a cell on the opposite side of the screen. Such a comparison is artificial, of course, and is not a property of the real world. It depends on the size and shape of the screen door, the screen itself, the individual cells, and the unique position of the observer (moving even slightly left or right will dramatically alter point-of-view and what appears in each cell).
Now imagine an artist comes and wants to painstakingly paint the mesh of the screen door to correspond with what he-or-she is seeing outside. As long as a second observer stands exactly where the artist stood when he-or-she painted the screen everything seems to jibe, although there are areas of descrepancy where the artist took creative liberties. However, if the second observer moves even slightly left or right from where the artist stood, then nothing outside agrees with the image on the screen, not even remotely. Over time more and more artists step forward and try to "fix" the picture, each offering his-or-her own interpretation and creative style, until the view outside—while still visible—is greatly reduced by strata of paint. So obscured does the view of reality become by the image on the screen that observers begin to accept the screen as reality rather than to take the effort to try to see past it. At this point we might as well board up the outer side of the screen, completely blocking the outside view, since the observers think the image on the screen is real, making the mechanisations of the 'real' world inconsequential. What they are accepting as 'reality' as completely artificial, of course, and not even their reality (it is dependent on other people's interpretation of reality).
Language is like this paint on the screen door, largely obscuring reality with artifice and interpretation. The real world is still out there, naturally, it always has been, but the only way we might ever hope to see it again is to learn to look beyond the words, to push open the screen door and step outside.
The Nature of the Game
Someone has drawn a line in the sand. On one side of the line stands a man. On the other side stands a woman. They enter into a discussion, cordially at first, although each thinks the other's stance to be founded on faulty reasoning and therefore grossly in error. In time their talk warms up and they begin to debate, but this soon degenerates into a heated argument. Eventually they come to blows and without intervention from a third-party might have injured, maimed, even killed one another.
It makes no difference what they were disputing, whether it was Liberalism vs. Conservativism, Theism vs. Atheism, Creationism vs. Darwinism, Christianity vs. Islam, Good vs. Evil, Morality vs. Immorality, Lawfulness vs. Anarchy, and so on. What is important is that line in the sand and who—or what—first drew it, why and when it was drawn, and what it means by intention.
The line itself is an abstraction. It is a man-made symbol that does not exist in nature, a mental construction existing only in the mind. It is completely artificial and the dichotomy or duality it promotes also artificial. The two sides that make up the divided halves of the line are brought into existence only because the line has been endowed with imaginary existence and the purpose of the line is to divide, to generate confrontation and conflict. Both sides of the line hinge upon people accepting this division as real since neither side of the line could exist without it. In other words, if the line were to be swept away the notion of 'sides' would instantly disappear.
Of course, this begs these questions: Where did the line come from? Who or what empowers it? Why is the line permitted to exist and thrive for all the destruction it causes?
To understand these questions is to awaken to the very nature of the game, because empowering the line and its sides is the game. The line is not real, its two sides are merely imaginary constructs, and the sand simply sand. To argue otherwise is to succumb to unreality, to be flim-flammed and bedazzled by the artifice of words.
What is Symbolatry?
Symbolatry is a curious term and means the idolization/idealization of words and ideas in contradiction, denial, or rejection of the basic processes of nature. To commit an error of Symbolatry is to empower words with values that occur nowhere in nature, then defend these values as if they were real. While some contend this is especially true of religious terms like 'god', 'heaven', 'soul', 'afterlife', and 'sin', the argument should not stop there. All words—including scientific, technical, political, critical, even the words of this web site—are abstract and artificial constructs of the inner mind.
Being such, words cannot exist outside this mental abstraction and are not real. All religious doctrines, political ideologies, and scientific theories—because they are word based—are artificial. Reality begins and ends in the absence of language, and anything dependent on words and symbols to make itself known is artificial. Anything that exists only by means of definition is unnatural.
Reality is not something that is quoted, cited, practiced, taught, or discussed. Reality is an unmediated and wordless experience, prior to the invention of language, papyri, scrolls, paper, and books. Reality is what remains when all words have been removed, which makes for a remarkably easy test. If you can experience a thing without first having to refer to words, then it is real; if you cannot, then it is artificial. All language is counterfeit, all writings are fictional.
Faith & Language
The faith of theists (those who espouse a belief in a personal deity) isn't about faith in God but faith in a particular set of words and traditions theists use to define, describe, and extol their notion of God. Faith is actually the accepting of a restricted set of supernatural /metaphysical / magical writings to be true despite physical evidence to the contrary. The theists' issue isn't about believing in God, it's about their empowering a narrow compilation of words to exert greater authority over their lives then they themselves allow, by esteeming abstract language in possession of greater ''meaning'" than the meaning impressed by physical existence. Faith is based on a belief in language, because without language the notion of religion is impossible. In other words, would anyone have reason to believe in God or the Soul or Heaven if he-or-she never heard/read of God or the Soul or Heaven? In the absence of language religion disappears, so faith is simply faith in artificial words—nothing more, nothing less. Of course, this is also true of historical writing, political writing, and scientific writing, since all these too are comprised of artificial words. Faith is imagining language to be 'real' across the board.
Magritte's text reads: "This is not an apple." No matter how realistically
an artist or writer portrays a thing, the thing portrayed is not real. Only the
medium is real: the paint or ink, the canvas or paper, the stone or clay.
The word 'Art' is an abbreviation of the word 'Artificial'.
What is Ignosticism?
Ignosticism, a word coined by the late Rabbi Sherwin Wine, is the view that the question of whether or not God exists is inherently meaningless because (1) the notion of God has no consistent definition among the various religious factions, and (2) all definitions of God refer to words that do not point to anything verifiable or testable in the 'real world' but only to presupposed 'attributes' extracted through an arbitrary collection of other words.
Religion, as such, is dependent solely upon the use of language since there is no evidence of religious or supernatural phenomena occurring outside the use of language. Without religious words or stories, religion is impossible, and it is for this reason that religious institutions are so adament in advocating the inerrancy, sacredness, and inspiration of a particular religious text (e.g., the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon). Without the ability to point back-and-forth to 'sacred' words, religious organizations would have nowhere else to point for 'proof' of their religion, their church doctrines, or their proprietary and dogmatic view of God.
Instead of saying God, Heaven, and Hell, you could just as easily say Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo. Like God, Heaven, and Hell, the only way you can know anything about Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo is through word association. But this isn't exactly true either. In all actuality, you don't know anything about Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo but only what you presuppose you know regarding all the other words associated with these terms. You can't point to Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo, or see them, or measure them, or know what they're suppose to be or whether they even exist, or where, or how. In fact, any words used to define Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo are applied not because of anything experienced in reality, but solely because of the pointing back-and-forth of artificial word associations. When we think we know anything at all about Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo it is because word associations and for no other reason! Since the existence of Galfaloon, Homatron, and Jyklumoo cannot be proven and nowhere in evidence, anything said about them is completely contrived, invented, speculative, made-up. If I say "Galfaloon is All-Knowing and All-Powerful" how do I know this? Since the existence of Galfaloon cannot be proven and is nowhere in evidence, I could just as easily have said "Galfaloon is ignorant and weak." Why? Because 'Galfaloon' is by itself a meaningless term that appropriates meaning solely from the words associated to it and from nothing else! This being the case, any words could be associated with it no matter how far-fetched, ridiculous, or contrary. You can't prove that one set of word associations is correct and a different set of word associations is incorrect, because the notion of 'Galfaloon' is composed of nothing but word associations. And that is the nature of religion.
The text in English reads: "This is the word of God." Claims of divinity, inspiration, and
inerrancy are only made inside the counterfeit realm of language and can never
be verified in the real world. The irony here is that both the image of the book
and all books themselves are composed of artificial constructs.
What does it mean to be the 'Word of God'?
CONCERNING DISCURSIVE EPISTEMIC COGNITIVE AMENTIA
Kumaraswami: Namaste. We have here with us today Dr. Janssen Theo, Visiting Professor and Researcher of Applied Linguistics at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics and the International Linguistics Center and author of the controversial book, Language Use and Discourse In Religion: An Anatomy of Discursive Epistemic Cognitive Amentia. From all of us we here offer thanks for taking time to sit with us today to speak about your book.
Dr. Theo: Thank you for the warm welcome and it is my pleasure to be here with you.
Kumaraswami: Your new book "Language and Discourse in Religion: An Anatomy of Discursive Epistemic Cognitive Amentia" has created quite a stir in religious circles. It is widely condemned and considered defamatory for its treatment of religious thought and discourse.
Dr. Theo: Yes, that does indeed appear to be the case, even though there clearly is no intention to defame religious thought. The reaction was not unexpected.
Kumaraswami: Why is that?
Dr. Theo: Well you see, in my book I explain how all religious literature without exception is entirely imaginative work since it is based on the principles of word formation. It could not be anything else but imagination per se. And discourse centered on these imaginings can lead to a specific form of cognitive amentia when word formation, meaning and use is not clearly apprehended and belief in words takes a tyrannical hold on mental life. Saying this alone seems to be enough for some to light fires and erect crosses.
Kumaraswami: I see. I too disagree with your ideas as I understand them, but for the sake of others what is and how does one develop the condition you named Discursive Epistemic Cognitive Amentia.
Dr. Theo: I am glad you can be a sport about this and to be so direct since many of the anecdotal evidence concerns practitioners of various forms of Hinduism of which you and the others here are engage. It is also correct to say as you did that the study is not about imbeciles but about an imbecilic condition.
Kumaraswami: That is why you are here. We want to hear it directly from you. Since I do engage Adaviata Vedanta language, perhaps, I suffer from it. What do you think?
Dr. Theo: I don't if you do or do not and frankly speaking it does not matter if I do know or not. That is something for you to intuit and to deal with it. You know, I have no intention of calling the believers and practitioners of religion imbeciles. The book is reporting observations of the underlying factors that allow distinctive cognitive disabilities to form through discursive thinking, speaking and writing.
Kumaraswami: Is there a test that is administered to determine if it is present?
Dr. Theo: No there is not.
Kumaraswami: Then how is it detected or recognized?
Dr. Theo: You see, the creation and transmission of religious imaginings by generations of purveyors and believers has created a transferable body of self-replicating delusional language and discourse. Both the language and the discourse are inherited, passed on and this allows the formation of distinctive patterns of speaking and writing. These patterns when used without careful examination and repeatedly applied by practitioners, they come to form a distinctive syndrome called discursive epistemic cognitive amentia or DECA. DECA is the gradual appearance of cognitive imbecility using discursive language knowledge in an attempt to eliminate discursive language knowledge. In other words, people talk themselves into cognitive amentia by trying to talk themselves out of knowledge by unknowingly using the same knowledge that they are trying to eliminate. In crude terms, they unknowingly talk themselves into DECA and it is readily observed in their expressive speech and writing.
Kumaraswami: This is a little hard to follow. Could you explain it on other words?
Dr. Theo: DECA is equivalent to the behavior seen in taking out an oil grease stain with oil grease while assuming, thinking or believing that the stain is being removed, has been removed or is already removed. To any non-imbecilic observer, this is imbecilic behavior. However, to the person engaged in the behavior it is not apparent at all and when informed of their behavior it is usually denied and they continue to do as before. There is no recognition of this habitual, conditioned behavior and this is DECA.
Kumaraswami: Is this condition harmful?
Dr. Theo: Generally speaking, no it is not harmful to the practitioners and in some cases serves a useful purpose. However, there is a tendency among in extreme forms of DECA to display mental rigidity and inflexibility, emotional volatility, intellectual impairment, memory loss, incoherent and irrational thought and speech patterns, paranoia, mania, delusions of grandeur, word and concept fixations, obsessions and compulsions, addictive speech and writing behaviors, vegetative mind states, a wide variety of delusions, hallucinations, and other non-normative mental, brain and intra-psychic states and experiences.
Kumaraswami: How widespread do you think DECA is? Is it rare or common?
Dr. Theo: DECA is a common condition among all who are ignorant of the nature of language and discourse and its relation to living. DECA is not limited to religious practitioners. Scientists of all kinds, philosophers, theologians any one with beliefs in words suffer to some degree from the condition, more or less. My focus has been on those discoursing using religious language and conceptualizations.
Kumaraswami: How does DECA occur? What is the anatomy of DECA?
Dr. Theo: It begins with taking words for granted. Words, spoken and written and otherwise known and expressed are everywhere - around, in, on, with - as is the air breathed. Words are the basic linguistic units used in the formation, development, transmission and exchange of knowledge. Words are bases of communication and communion among human kind and the bases of human thought process including the construction of meaning and experience. Yet, little time or energy is spent in understanding precisely the formation, development, maintenance, change, nature, use, and limitations of words. They are used without knowing what they are.
Kumaraswami: I see. And since so much religious knowledge is created, thought of, and communicated of using the spoken, written, and thought of word, it is important to know something of the science of words...
Dr. Theo: Yes, and a full knowledge of linguistics is unnecessary. A clear understanding of the basics is all that is needed.
Kumaraswami: So how does the condition emerge from the ignorance of word science?
Dr. Theo: Fundamentally, a word is spoken, written or symbolic unit in a language. A word also is a unit in the lexicon or dictionary of a language. All words are dependent on other words for definition and/or meaning. Words cannot be used or understood without using other words and so using one word leads to another in an unending linkage within a limited lexicon. The limited lexicon is used to create limited imagined worlds that are simultaneously, more or less, defined, mediated and experienced through words. What can be conceived, created, and experienced is limited by the words available in the lexicon. The words, lexicon, and language of religions and related teachings are used to do the same, to create limited worlds that are thought to be infinite or inexplicable. In fact what is created is an imagining composed of words and experiences mediated and described in words. As the words and linkages change so does the world and experiences in it. It is all the work of imagination using words.
Kumaraswami: Yes it is clear that words themselves point to or refer to underlying realities. This is nothing new and this does not explain DECA. Words point to existing things and existence. How can it be said that all is imagined?
Dr. Theo: When words are used they are used to point to other words within a lexicon. Words cannot be used to point to any thing outside the lexicon because there is no thing outside the lexicon by default. Any thing pointed to would have to be another a word. For example, God is a word that has an enormous chain of related words, meanings and word mediated human experiences tied to it in all the ways that are done. To say "There is no God" is denying that the word God and its complex of words, meanings and experiences is not. This is not possible to do for the word God is there - spoken, written, symbolized, used, - with all the related words, meanings and experiences attached to it. To deny the word God and its enormous body of words, meanings and experiences is a symptom of DECA. Also to believe that there is an indescribable God beyond the word God and the chain of meanings and experiences derived from the words is equally a sign of DECA. There is no thing beyond words. "Beyond words" are words and any attempt to explain what is beyond words ends up with more words. To seriously assume, think, imagine, or believe that words can be used to point to some thing beyond the words and its related meanings and experiences derived and generated from the use of those word is an erroneous understanding of words and language use. This erroneous understanding is the base condition underlying DECA. It is an error to believe that a word points something beyond the word itself or words themselves.
Kumaraswami: How can you say this? Are you outside of the lexicon and privileged to see this?
Dr. Theo: As long as I speak or write or symbolize I am within the limits of the conceived and imagined worlds of my making and that are made from the lexicon that is available to me. It can be said because it can imagined. To think, speak, write or symbolize in words is the limiting factor. Attempting to go beyond this limit only results in word chains trailing and or leading. You can realize this by gradually coming to fail completely in the effort to go beyond it or it can be realized instantaneously. Every question about and every effort to experience beyond words brings words to use to go beyond words. It simply cannot be done. It is a futile effort as is removing oil grease stain with oil grease. This is the core of DECA. The condition of trying to breach an insurmonatable limit by using the insurmountable limit. The continued attempt or the imagination that it has been done is a symptom of DECA, cognitive imbecility.
Kumaraswami: I am not convinced that what you are saying is valid. There are things beyond words. One can sense it or be that which is beyond words. There is existence and consciousness, being and awareness. You cannot doubt it.
Dr. Theo: It can be accepted, doubted, entirely disregarded, argued and debated over and so on. They are just words. They are units used to tautologically select and create the experience they refer to. For example, words are used to create the concepts of awareness, consciousness, God the Self, Purusaha, Nirguna Brahaman, No Self, the Silence Beyond, This, I Am, Love, ego, Maya, illusion, delusion, dream and so forth and simultaneously experiences begin to gradually or more quickly or even instantaneously form according to each formulation of these word-concepts and the attendant meanings. Believing that these words and the imagination generated experiences are somehow beyond the words themselves and their mediating effects could be considered a sign of the presence of DECA; "it," "that," "existence, consciousness," "being, awareness" are all words with related words, meanings and mediated experiences attached to them. Now if I ask you what is "it" that is sensed or "that" that one becomes, or what is "existence, " "consciousness," "being, " awareness" or "what" lies beyond these, more words are used. There is no escape. Using one word begets another, in thought, speech, writing, and symbolizing. The attempt to escape words with words is a prominent symptom of DECA.
Kumaraswami: So are you saying that all of human experience is imagined?
Dr. Theo: How else could it be?
Kumaraswami: We say there is an Absolute that is all. You and all of what is experienced has its origin and being in the Absolute. Can your existence and the existence of phenomena be doubted?
Dr. Theo: Kumaraswami, you are asking the same question that was already answered above. Let me assume that the Absolute is all. I agree with you. Now what is left to say? No thing. Why? Is it because there is an Absolute beyond the word itself? No. I agreed and so there is no thing more to say. The word Absolute is a word used to absorb all lexicons into one word, the Absolute, and thereby rendering all other words mute by defining the Absolute as attributeless or Nir or inexplicable or ineffable or by what it is not, more words. It nonetheless is a word. It is a single word that is made to contain all words and all words are said to have their existence and emergence in this one word. A simple word that is used by speakers to render all other words subordinate or mute before it. Pure objectless awareness is of the same ilk as well as Divine Darkness or Sunyata. By definition these words render speakers and the lexicon mute while at the same being the source of endless discourse since the lexical items contained in the embargoed lexicon contained within that word unavoidably leaks out and this leaking of words are then explained and so there is endless discursive thinking, speaking, writing about these leaks of words in relation to the Absolute. These sorts of words are clever linguistic devices and frames of meaning. These frames of meaning are used in directing and channeling the experience as well as expressing the channeled experience in words. As you imagine so you experience.
Kumaraswami: So what of the experiences, the samadhis? These are not imagined they in fact happen.
Dr. Theo: Yes, they happen and that does not change that all experiences are imagined. Experiences are word mediated imaginings and, when thought of and expressed, are worded descriptions; words are used to order and describe other words. Words and all the related words and meanings, implicitly and explicitly used, provide the channel for experiences to be formed. One can have whatever experience desired by creating the frame or channel to enter that experience and then to describe it later. Otherwise, there is no experience per se. For example, the English language has no word equivalent to the word "chong" found in the Korean language. Also not available are all the words and meanings chaining with "chong" as well as the behaviors associated and emerging from the inheritance, identification, belief in, enactment of "chong" in daily life. Koreans speak of "chong," have "chong," display "chong" or not. Native Koreans familiar with American behavior patterns say that Americans lack it, that they do not or cannot understand it, display it or describe it. American search futilely for the equivalent by composing sets of words that seem to approximate "chong" but these compositions are rejected by Koreans. Koreans reject their own compositions as well. And how could the American do so, since it is not in the English lexicon and is therefore not inherited, or conceived and therefore is unidentifiable, unbelievable, non-existent and not enacted and cannot be described. It is foreign. Here is a great source of cultural differences in thought and behavior. In reverse, American and European psychological theory is being revised using relevant Korean terminology to replace those that do not resonate in any way with the Korean psyche and experience.
Kumaraswami: So who or what is undergoing the experience?
Dr. Theo: Whomever or whatever you imagine and described in words. It depends. All words are associated with other words, meanings and experiences and these associations and their infinite permutations make words and their meanings and associated experiences indexical. Indexicality is another attribute of words worth knowing. Those words are indexical and can mean many different things depending on the speaker and context. A speaker can say "I exist" and "I am being and awareness," but what do these words actually mean? What is that experience like for the speaker? In fact, it means whatever it means to the speaker and it is utterly private. The experience is only available through imagining what it is the speaker means when communicating the words of it and what it means to the speaker. One can agree or identify with what the speaker describes, as if it is the same in experience of the listener. Or the listener can disagree with, doubt it or ignore it or some other response. Dialogic agreement is nothing more than agreeing to accept the words as imagined, defined or described. Dialogic disagreement is the opposite of that and there are all kinds of ways of treating and using words and concepts both spoken and written. It simply treating and using words as this or that, having this or that meaning and sense. Who or what is always indexical, that is, the meaning and description of meaning and sense of who or what is dependent on the speaker and context of speaking in a dialogic manner. It is imagined regardless as to how it is used.
Kumaraswami: You are denying existence by saying that all is imagined. Are you a nihilist and is this not nihilism in linguistic garb?
Dr. Theo: No, Kumaraswami that is your inference from and your understanding of the word imagination and its relation to your religious lexicon that includes reality and illusion, snake and rope, Absolute and Maya. That is your concern with the Absolute being said to be imagined. Imagination, as I use the word, has nothing to with factuality. Imagining means to form in the mind a notion or idea, a mental image, to conceive of something. This has nothing to do with positing non-existence. As far as the lexicon goes think of it this way: Affirmation and negation of words do not make words exist or not exist. These are merely word treatments. For example, the word non-existence is the negation of the word existence. And by definition the word existence negates the word non-existence. Both words remain side by side. Both are. Affirming or denying either, both or neither over another is treating words and nothing more. Believing one word to exist and the other not is a symptom of DECA. Existence and non-existence are only words pointing to other words.
Kumaraswami: And what of perceptions and sensations of the body and experience of matter? Are these imagined? Can you really say that it is all imagined? If a car hits the body there is great pain experienced and visible physical damage to both the body and the car. Can you pass through a concrete wall? Are these all imagined?
Dr. Theo: Yes. What you have asked is an imagining. All is imagined. As long as words and all that is attached and chained to words are incorporated in any form, implicity or explicity, imagination operates. It cannot be avoided. So the very question you ask is based on your assumptions and conceptualization of a physical reality that is experienced through perceptions and sensations. All of these are word compositions and descriptions trying to explain other word compositions and descriptions. None of this denies nor affirms what is imagined. The description and report of a car accident or an attempt to pass through a concrete wall is simply a description and it may be described in as many different ways as imagined. Some would say there is no wall or body and that that is an illusion hard seen through. Others will say, "Damn right it is wall. Just try, to run through it and you will meet reality." A physicist studying quantum phenomena will provide a different imagining, saying at the quantum level there is no solidity. It makes no difference what the imagining is. They are all possible and each is used as it goes. It is all words arranged to convey sense and meaning and to order these meanings to frame, form and describe experiences and memories, thoughts and so on. Both the sense and belief that there is some thing beyond words is the core of DECA.
Kumaraswami: It seems to me you are also caught in a web of words. Is that not so? DECA is simply your imagination at work.
Dr. Theo: Yes. Indeed it is. As I said above, as long as I speak or write or symbolize I am within the limits of the conceived and imagined worlds of my making and those possibly made from all other lexicons available. And caught is not the word I would use. I would say that I am free in the web of words to imagine freely any that comes of interest. DECA is an imagined syndrome. I imagined it, created it as you re-create the Absolute.
Kumaraswami: Why did you imagine it?
Dr. Theo: No particular reason or purpose. Just a spontaneous lark of imagining about something that I wondered about and that has ended with the writing of the book. My interest now is to explore wordless behavior like home alone dancing.
Kumaraswami: I see. Well, it has been a pleasure to dialogue with you and good luck on your new interest. Namaste.
Dr. Theo: Thank you.
Copyright © 2008 by Craig Lee Duckett. All rights reserved
LAST UPDATED: September 11, 2008:
April 10, 2010