Archive for March 2012

March 29, 2012

Experience is the union of action and consequence, and the flux of consequences reflected back are loaded with significance. The sticking of our finger into a flame, for example, means burn. But it also means regret, it means caution, it means checking curiosity, blame, self-censure, forethought, it means tears (some genuine, some malign), it means reaction to discomfort, dealing with involuntary response, and a whole ensuing causal chain of events, each link branching out in a likewise self-sustaining fashion with truly exponential breadth. Every grace of skin, movement, speech act, etc., is bound up with such an explosion of meaning that we’re only half aware of, and with each new experience the chain multiplies, for all the previous links of meaning are brought to bear on this new meaning. It is not so much the contents, but this activity itself which constitutes the life and fire of consciousness. Bliss peaks when this magnitude reaches such wonderfully unbearable proportions that the dams of the unconscious yield, and the tears flow hot. Language is not a series of connected picture-things appearing before the mind (what a mess the mind would be if it was!), it is precisely this explosion of meaning during experience called forth in the hearer by the speaker; and it rests as concrete yet invisible before the mind in its rejoinder as it did in its original experience. This concrete invisibility is the veil of the understanding. If you want to know how humans process language, look at how they acquire meaning in the first place.