Language shattered into a multiplicity
To put it even more bluntly: whereas one would have expected that a crisis of literacy would have called for a greater appreciation of the multiplicity of functions that language performs, the foremost of which is the ability to code and transcode experience and to provide cultural directions for its interpretation, handling and elaboration, one finds a further instrumentalization of language, where the latter is shattered into a multiplicity of autonomous, unrelated languages, with the competence to be acquired restricted to just one of them.
The Culture of Literacy, Wlad Godzich
We speak and we speak and we speak.
We talk of our jobs. We talk of people who make us feel frustrated. We talk of our indignation at perceived slights. We talk of our excitement at a beautifully struck kick on the soccer pitch. We talk of our rude desire for a stranger passing by.
We talk about what we have heard from others. We talk about the way an insult makes us want to strike out. We talk about the way an angry word makes us want to slink away.
We talk about the way that two cells won’t tie out in a spreadsheet that our boss is making us finish too soon. We talk about fudging numbers to make the outcome look better.
We talk about how bad people need to be forgiven, about how circumstances make it impossible do what we said we would do, about what stupid things our adult children have done and how we never get to see them, about how we are feeling impatient with things that we’ve tolerated before, about how we would have been something else if our partners hadn’t made us give up our dreams, how we don’t like the way old people smell in the grocery line, about how we’ve had a tingling feeling in our right arm that ends up someplace in our chest, but our insurance won’t cover a visit, so we’re waiting until the new year to make an appointment.
We talk about how things are being done to us. We talk about how ragheads and towelheads and dotheads and believers and unbelievers and sinners and the insolent want to do things that shouldn’t be allowed in a country like ours.
When we write down the things we talk about, we write from the left to the right, we go from the top of the page to the bottom, we pick from 24 letters to make our words, we use periods to signal full stops. We write down what we talk about and we realize that we don’t have a fucking clue what we really mean, and neither does anyone else. But we feel it. Man, we feel it.
You better feel it too.