Derivative Value

Our language is what you could call ‘flattened’, or in other words, it lacks in most cases the capacity to distinguish layers of meaning by the use of a single word. We see that in ancient cultures symbols were used as a form of language which was intended to be understood in layers rather than simply by literal interpretation. The evolving or, based on your perspective, devolving vehicle of modern language — with English used as the prime example — seeks and strives to simplify communication into a highly efficient tool for conveying matter-of-fact meaning. The problem herein lies with the nature of how it goes about it, using one word which in former times meant many things, depending on how it was used, and in modern days conveying the, now, most derivative value.

This is exceedingly effective for those who want to indulge in chatter only for the sake of conducting business or in low-level banter such as ‘small talk’ or degenerate gossip. It is wholly unnecessary for them to use language in any other way since these two categories alone fill up the majority of their idle time. And from this point of view it is indeed unnecessary for language to play the part as conveyer of higher meaning, for that is seen as a luxury, and therefore considered immediately dispensible. Men will walk through the streets, into their offices, out to dine and wine, and back to their homes, succeeding every step of the way to live according to a very simple and plain way of being. The words that come out of their mouths will need only to get them what they need, when they want it.

A word such as ‘love’ will be taken at one level only, and when looking back to old texts such as ancient poetry from the likes of Rumi or Hafez, they will take it to mean what they literally understand it to be. Love for them will refer purely to conjugal relationships in its highest meaning and coitus in its lowest. And that will be that. Whatever Rumi meant by the word in days a thousand years passed will no longer be channeled through to our minds and hearts in the way it was intended. For in the past, if we look back carefully, language was a tool which was handled with great intimacy and attention, slowly put together with no awkward rush to prod along a conversation at the expense of the quality of the meaning which all of these words were intended to convey in the first place.

The world as it is now has its allegiance to the momentum of progress and refinment, displacing genuine quality for the outer veneer of it, and as long as the outer decoration gives off the impression of excellence, then the aim has been reached. This is the condition to which every aspect of our culture will seek to reflect and express itself, and our language is a building block to which it is all held up in the air together. For our mind, in and of itself, is designed to process thoughts through the vehicle of words, and if language is flattened, then so too is our mind. It to this final point which we should feel the greatest pang of remorse and dread, for once the majority at its whole forgets the origins of language and its former high esteem and grace of use, then the future will prove to give way to a new era of progressively more literal and surface-level interpretation.

One response to “Derivative Value

  1. I often tend to agree with these sentiments. Secretly. And then my anti Frankfurt school derived guilty conscience strikes. And argues thus: Why is the propensity of the modern day language users to not delve into the depths of what language conveys a devolutionary trend? Does this tendency not indicate a need to move language use towards more precision? As much as I lament that being a lover of words. But styles shift and story telling with all its complexity always survives.

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