Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Language

Sometimes you don't need language. You especially don't need it when it's no longer reliable, no longer controllable, no longer easy and when it's very very likely to reduce you to a simpering fool. That said, there is mystery in an inability to communicate with others via our usual means; an allure in someone else's unknowable knowledge; a challenge in trying to tap into it, somehow, without words.
Without language there can be an adrenalin rush in negotiating ordinary routines. There can be excitement in guessing at the meaning of unknown words, at the truth of the meaning that lies in strange sounding sentences. There can be joy in listening for linguistic hints, for familiar-sounding tones; in watching for familiar body movements and expressions that might suggest 'mother,' 'son,' 'daughter,' 'husband' - something you can relate to and draw out into meaningful exchange.
Sometimes, the silent spaces between words and gestures is enough. And sometimes they can be just as eloquent as the words themselves - in any language. From 'Travel in Beijing'; a manuscript by ajr

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