Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. In the Beginning Was the Word

 

Homo Sapiens became fully human with the creation of language, whether spoken, signed, or scratched in the dust. Before language, we were trapped inside our brains and our thoughts died with us. With language, our worlds expanded beyond the boundaries of our skulls. Thoughts could be shared, combined, and transformed into new thoughts. Our ideas could, like our children, outlive us. With the written word, our ideas could outlive even our children and their children. We could speak to people hundreds of years into the future and explain to them who we were and how we lived.

The postmodern claim, which the woke have adopted, is that communication between people of different eras – even different cultures – is impossible. Any text, they point out, has an infinite number of possible interpretations. And to that (small “t”) truth, they add the lies that no interpretation is more relevant than the rest and that words are merely tools of oppression in a world in which there are only oppressors and oppressed.

Our existence belies these claims. Humanity could not have survived a world in which words have no meaning – a world in which instructions for preparing a doctor’s prescription, a textbook explaining how to determine stresses on a construction beam, or a manual describing how to defuse a bomb can mean anything and, therefore, nothing. While there might truly be an infinite number of ways to interpret such texts, only a very few ways will keep us alive.

Literature doesn’t require the same level of rigorous and unambiguous meaning as do how-to manuals, but it offers key insights into our biggest questions such as why do we exist, what gives life meaning, and how we should live our lives. We learn how actors in literary dramas faced challenges and how they overcame them or why they failed.

In their march for power through the institutions, though, the woke seek to destroy the word. Because in their minds, the word is nothing more than a means of oppression, they’ve decided they’ll control those means and become the oppressors. The Left has weakened, corrupted, or destroyed one institution after another – the family, public education, the university – leaving the world far worse off than before. But this time the Left seeks, by destroying language and meaning, to abolish our humanity.

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor

    Richard Fulmer: ny text, they point out, has an infinite number of possible interpretations. And to that (small “t”) truth, they add the lies that no interpretation is more relevant than the rest and that words are merely tools of oppression in a world in which there are only oppressors and oppressed.

    Spot on, and nicely put. That technique of extrapolating from what you referred to as “small ‘t’ truth” is common and insidious. Yes, racism exists, ergo we are a racist nation; yes, we recognize the value of some government services, ergo we are a socialist nation; yes, some officers behave badly, so eliminate the police. Etc.

    • #1
    • July 7, 2020, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Well said. We cannot concede to them the ability to define the language. The end result of that is that everything means “you’re evil.”

    • #2
    • July 7, 2020, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer: Our existence belies these claims. Humanity could not have survived a world in which words have no meaning – a world in which instructions for preparing a doctor’s prescription, a textbook explaining how to determine stresses on a construction beam, or a manual describing how to defuse a bomb can mean anything and, therefore, nothing. While there might truly be an infinite number of ways to interpret such texts, only a very few ways will keep us alive. 

    Survive? Maybe. Advance? Not a chance.

    The progs seek to erase history and make human nature malleable. The former could work. The latter will fail.

    • #3
    • July 7, 2020, at 7:23 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Excellent post. It’s interesting to note that most of “the woke who seek to destroy the word” are themselves Word People…they live by the manipulation of symbols–mostly verbal symbols–and images.

     

     

    • #4
    • July 7, 2020, at 8:16 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Satan makes an appearance in Goethe’s Faust as the character, Mephistopheles, who proclaims himself the enemy of the Word. That’s a profound thought and one that’s of a piece with the epigraph to Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals, which hails Lucifer as “the first radical known to man.”

    • #5
    • July 7, 2020, at 8:25 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    That technique of extrapolating from what you referred to as “small ‘t’ truth” is common and insidious.

    The technique seems to lead to binary thinking in which everything is either good or evil with nothing in between. So, we get this Manichean thinking in which “white people” is a single entity rather than a group of individuals. And as a single entity it can be declared to be evil. To say that such categorical thinking is childish would be to insult children. “Dogmatic” is perhaps closer to the truth.

    • #6
    • July 7, 2020, at 8:37 AM PDT
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  7. RightAngles Member

    “There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.”

    —George Orwell

    • #7
    • July 7, 2020, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  8. Sisyphus Coolidge
    Sisyphus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer:

    The post-modern claim, which the woke have adopted, is that communication between people of different eras – even different cultures – is impossible. Any text, they point out, has an infinite number of possible interpretations. And to that (small “t”) truth, they add the lies that no interpretation is more relevant than the rest and that words are merely tools of oppression in a world in which there are only oppressors and oppressed. 

     

    To which I invariably reply, I can’t possibly understand you, run along now the adults are talking,

    • #8
    • July 7, 2020, at 11:01 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Satan makes an appearance in Goethe’s Faust as the character, Mephistopheles, who proclaims himself the enemy of the Word. That’s a profound thought and one that’s of a piece with the epigraph to Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals, which hails Lucifer as “the first radical known to man.”

    There are several things in Faust which are relevant to our current situation. In my reading, Faust…contrary to popular opinion…was not a man who sold his soul to gain knowledge. Nor was he motivated only by ““gold and guns and girls,” as C S Lewis suggested. This is partly true, but is by no means the whole story.

    I think critic Marshall Berman gets it right when he refers to Faust as a developer, and to the play as a whole as a tragedy of development. Berman uses the words developer/development in two related ways:

    a)Self-development, as that phrase might be used in a modern self-help book:

    What this Faust wants for himself is a dynamic process that will include every mode of human experience, joy and misery alike, and that will assimilate them all into his self’s unending growth; even the self’s destruction will be an integral part of its development.

    b)Economic, industrial, and political development

    The only way for modern man to transform himself, Faust and we will find out, is by radically transforming the whole physical and social and moral world he lives in…But the great developments he initiates…intellectual, moral, economic, social…turn out to exact great human costs.

    As people would put it nowadays, Faust wants to “make a difference.” He wants to “change the world.”

    The play is also relevant to the cruelty in the name of virtue-signaling which is so common today: Gretchen, who is Faust’s primary romantic interest, is portrayed as a very virtuous person…but even she has participated in group cruelty toward unmarried pregnant girls…behavior that she fully recognizes as bad only when she herself becomes pregnant and fears being similarly targeted.

    I reviewed the play, particularly from the standpoint of ambition, here.

    • #9
    • July 7, 2020, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “Racist!”

    Man = woman, whatever.

    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    etc.

    • #10
    • July 7, 2020, at 11:25 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Jules PA Member

    Richard Fulmer: they add the lies that no interpretation is more relevant than the rest and that words are merely tools of oppression in a world in which there are only oppressors and oppressed.

    So funny, cause all the woke want to do is trade places, and be the oppressor.

    There is nothing new under the sun. What America strives to be is the best humanity can cobble together, this side of heaven. 

    • #11
    • July 7, 2020, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer: The postmodern claim, which the woke have adopted, is that communication between people of different eras – even different cultures – is impossible.

    This is a mischaracterization of postmodern, multicultural orthodoxy. According to the regressive Left, all cultures are equally valid and can live together in perfect harmony. That is the salad bowl model, in contrast to the melting pot of yore. The Tower of Babel is a biblical idea: quite the opposite of the teachings of the Church of Woke.

    To defeat an ideology, one must first understand it. Otherwise, it’s all just tilting at windmills.

    • #12
    • July 7, 2020, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Most people immediately reject postmodernism when it is presented to them, for similar reasons. If I want to buy a drink that is priced at $1.99, people are not going accept being charged $500.00 for it because of the varied interpretations of the price. No one actually lives like this. No one lives in a world without any meaning, even meaning of the most trivial sort. Even young children generally understand that words have meaning and that there is a practical difference between your imagination and what actually exists.

    Postmodernism means that the person who can force their meaning to be true can decide the truth, and they intend to be that god-like figure.

    • #13
    • July 7, 2020, at 2:29 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    This is a mischaracterization of postmodern, multicultural orthodoxy. According to the regressive Left, all cultures are equally valid and can live together in perfect harmony. That is the salad bowl model, in contrast to the melting pot of yore.

    Your reference doesn’t fully support your claim. It implies that special programs and initiatives are needed to promote dialog between the various “salad bowl” cultures, which, in turn, implies the need for some sort of expertise.

    As I understand it, one of the ideas behind deconstruction, to the extent it has a definition, is that a text can only be understood in the context of the time, culture, and society in which it was written and with an understanding of the author’s place in that time, culture, and society. In other words, a non-expert would be unable to decipher the meaning of any text created outside his or her time, culture, and society.

    On the other hand, that implies that a text has a “real” meaning that (a) can be determined and (b) is more valid than other possible meanings. Which, of course, contradicts the claim that no interpretation is more valid than another.

    • #14
    • July 7, 2020, at 3:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
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  15. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    The Tower of Babel

    I don’t believe that the moral of the story of the Tower of Babel is that people from different cultures can’t communicate. Rather it’s a warning against hubris. God punished men for trying to build a tower that reached to Heaven.

    • #15
    • July 7, 2020, at 3:19 PM PDT
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  16. Henry Racette Contributor

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    The Tower of Babel

    I don’t believe that the moral of the story of the Tower of Babel is that people from different cultures can’t communicate. Rather it’s a warning against hubris. God punished men for trying to build a tower that reached to Heaven.

    Richard, I’m sure you’re right about the moral of the story. However, G-d’s solution to the problem of humans cooperating to achieve godlike status was to give them a multitude of languages precisely so that they could not cooperate easily. And I guess that makes the reference pertinent.

    • #16
    • July 7, 2020, at 3:32 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):
    The Tower of Babel

    I don’t believe that the moral of the story of the Tower of Babel is that people from different cultures can’t communicate. Rather it’s a warning against hubris. God punished men for trying to build a tower that reached to Heaven.

    Richard, I’m sure you’re right about the moral of the story. However, G-d’s solution to the problem of humans cooperating to achieve godlike status was to give them a multitude of languages precisely so that they could not cooperate easily. And I guess that makes the reference pertinent.

    This is making my head hurt. I think I need @drlorentz to explain all this to me in words of one syllable or less.

    • #17
    • July 7, 2020, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. garyinabq Member

    In the beginning was the Word…is about more than language. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God…takes it to the most sacred beliefs of Christianity. That is why Faust tried to translate the Bible and of all scripture, John 1 was his first choice to change. He tried (instead of Word) “In the beginning was the SENSE, then tried the FORCE, then finally the DEED, affirming he (Faust, Goethe) was a man of action and that was what mattered most. Faust lost his bet with Mephistopheles but his soul went to heaven anyway on a technicality. Of course, Goethe could write the story any way he wanted and I guess that was his own personal hope.

    Today’s manipulators of language think they will succeed, but their story is a work of fiction like Faust. Their false translation will not be accepted.

    • #18
    • July 7, 2020, at 4:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. Jason Obermeyer Member

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    According to the regressive Left, all cultures are equally valid and can live together in perfect harmony.

    I’m not sure sure this is correct. It might be true of certain doe eye morons who like the word multi-cultural because it sounds nice. But there are plenty on the cutting edge of postmodernism who are explicitly seeking separation. 

     

    • #19
    • July 7, 2020, at 6:47 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Henry Castaigne Member

    After the fall of the Soviet tyranny, Academics decided that there was no Truth rather than accept that they got it wrong. They were willing to believe in anything but that they got stuff wrong. 

    • #20
    • July 8, 2020, at 12:19 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    To defeat an ideology, one must first understand it. Otherwise, it’s all just tilting at windmills.

    I’m not disagreeing, but I think that part of the problem is that many (most?) people with the postmodern ideology don’t understand it, don’t want to, and don’t care that they don’t. All that matters is that it allows them to feel contempt for those of us who disagree.

    • #21
    • July 8, 2020, at 5:38 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. Henry Castaigne Member

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    To defeat an ideology, one must first understand it. Otherwise, it’s all just tilting at windmills.

    I’m not disagreeing, but I think that part of the problem is that many (most?) people with the postmodern ideology don’t understand it, don’t want to, and don’t care that they don’t. All that matters is that it allows them to feel contempt for those of us who disagree.

    Postmodernism isn’t really philosophy. It’s an oikophobic reaction emotional reaction. I got into the details of that in the quoted article.

    Look Postmodernists/Wokists says that they are against poverty and bigotry and homophobia. They then attack Western civilization as being the only civilization in the world that has poverty, bigotry and anti-gay sentiments. All those evils are bigger in other countries but they don’t care about the history of other countries. They only want to condemn their own society.

    • #22
    • July 8, 2020, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.