words, words, words

[…] there is no end to it, words, words, words. At best and most they are perhaps inย memoriam, evocations, conjurations, incantations, emanations, shimmering, iridescent flares in the sky of darkness, a just still feasible tact, indiscretions, perhaps forgiveable….

City lights at night, from the air, receding, like these words, atoms each containing its own world and every other world. Each a fuse to set you off….

If I could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, If I could tell you I would let you know.

– R. D. Laing (1967). The Bird of Paradise.

 

If I could tell you

If I could tell you
Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

– W. H. Auden (1907 – 73)

Thinking in words

“… the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one’s words are likely to make on another person.”

—George Orwell (1946), Politics and the English Language

Words

More and more I found myself at a loss for words and didn’t want to hear other people talking either. Their conversations seemed false and empty. I preferred to look at the sea, which said nothing and never made you feel alone.

– Paula McLain, The Paris Wife

 

Love, the warmth of bodies in contact, is the only mercy shown to us in the darkness. But the only union is that of the organs, and it canโ€™t bridge over the cleavage made by speech. Yet they unite in order to produce beings to stand by them in their hopeless isolation. And the generations look coldly into each otherโ€™s eyes. If you cram a ship full to bursting with human bodies, they all freeze with loneliness.

– Bertold Brecht, In the Jungle of Cities

 

… of course natural language is meaningless. Even in my most optimistic moments I can only conclude that conversation merely exists to disguise the fact that we are all going to die… No doubt following this lecture you will all exist mostly in silence.

– Maurice Clint, 2001 or so, Belfast, in a maths lecture

 

Language only lives in and through human culture, which on the one hand needs mutual understanding but on the other hand makes direct communication impossible. […] People who use language lose their primitive desires which, however sinful, remain close to the self. Frightened by solitude, their only home, they become automata, slaves of the monster-machine of public relations.

– Brouwer, Life, Art, and Mysticism

 

The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?

– Ecclesiastes 6:11

 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
Doesn’t make any sense.

– Rumi

 

Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable

– Depeche Mode, Enjoy the Silence

 

What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.

– Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

 

Silence is sexy
Silence is sexy
So sexy
So silence
Silence is sexy
Silence is sexy
So sexy
So sexy

-From Silence is Sexy by Blixa Bargeld of Einstรผrzende Neubauten

 

Woke up this morning and my head was in a daze,
Brave new world had dawned upon the human race,
Words are meaningless and everything’s surreal,
Gonna have to reach my friends to find out how I feel,
And if I taste the honey, is it really sweet?
And do I eat it with my hands or with my feet?
Does anybody really listen when I speak or will I have to say it all again next week?

– Shakespears Sister, Hello (Turn Your Radio On)

 

And it’s not enough
To tell me that you care,
When we both know the words are empty air.

– Calvin Harris, Sweet Nothing

 

We are spendthrifts with words,
We squander them,
Toss them like pennies in the air—
Arrogant words,
Angry words,
Cruel words,
Comradely words,
Shy words tiptoeing from mouth to ear.

But the slowly wrought words of love
And the thunderous words of heartbreak—
These we hoard.

– Words, by Pauli Murray