Wednesday, October 5, 2016

№ 291. In the Beginning was the Word

What is that which we call a "word"?

Calvin and His Logic
A word, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, is a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.

Why do words matter?

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me. True? Anybody who has been subjected to bullying, trolling and its shape-shifting gang members --- cyber or real --- knows how words are.

Words are powerful.

Words can be omnipotent. In fact, Christian cosmology ignite the creation narrative through the power of the Divine Word: God said, "Let there be light." And there was light!

Words carry the unspoken, undivined thoughts to the realm of the senses. Through words, the invisible field open up to the reality that is captured and comprehended by the senses. Exorcists, have even been advised, in order to tame or cast out a demon must speak the villain's name. Only then can the mortal engage the immortal. Words, therefore,  bridge the metaphysical to the physical.

Because words carry meaning, they possess the power of their meanings. Meanings, of course, embrace an ecosystem of race, creed, class, history, politics and the many diversities that our human prejudices turn into divisions.
Fighting words, cutting slander, libelous statements and other verbal weapons can break a peace of mind, trigger insomnia, injure reputations, hurt feelings, disturb the psyche and cause undue harm, etc.

Words are powerful because they carry all the ranges and depths of our emotions, our histories and, in short, our humanity.

Somebody wrote:

"To be or not to be – that is the question.” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

The moment you can take an Instagram photo that captures this sentence, with all its philosophy, anguish, and transcendence, perhaps you will convince me that an image can properly replace words."

And so our adventure with words continue, for so long as we have not evolved into telepathic beings who can just communicate entirely through images from their brains. Can we really dispense with our necessary captions? Our tweets, barbs and repartees? Aren't words part of what is essentially human? Lose words, lose our fractured existences. Dispense with words, dispense with all the ambiguities that create nuances, craziness, chaos, layers and contradictions.

As it was in the beginning, when the world was made, so it is in the end: word.

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