On language: on controlling and being controlled

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Mephura, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    In various threads the topic of man's place in nature and world has been discussed to no end. Man is a creature of nature, and yet he removes himself and elevates himself above it. Why?


    The only real advantage man has developed for survival is the ability to think in a variety of ways and thus attempt to control his surroundings. Instead of changing to match his environs, he changes his environs to match him.

    Now in today's world full of tree hugging hippies, green peace-ers, PETA freaks, and what ever other save the whales/earth/spotted owl groups you can think of, you might think that man has learned 'the error of our ways' (ha) and started down a less controlling path. I say no. It is an ingrained trait. Our very existence is based on the idea of control. If we attempt to fix any of the 'problems' that we have caused, are we not still exerting control? When we control population sizes and bread species to halt extinction, aren't we stepping in and altering nature's way? But this isn't what I started this thread about.

    Language is our most common form of control. On one side, you have the idea that is found in many magical systems that if you know something's name, you have power over that thing. Mind you this goes into the idea of 'true names' and other spiritual ideas, so I'm going to gloss over that and go to something a bit more practical. In a psychological sense, naming things is a form of control. The most common, and I would go so far as to say universal, fear is that of the unknown. By naming something, you 'tag' the object with certain qualities. True, language is a tool used for the exchange of ideas and information, but it also serves as a means of changing our environment. When something is named, it loses any mystery that might surround it. If it is known, it gains a familiarity that causes it to loose much of the fear that we may have for it. Think about many of the books, movies, and television shows you've read/seen. The scariest monsters and villains are the ones that possess some unknown quality. Something not familiar. Something we have a hard time controlling. Whether this is a psychotic derangement or an alien species, its something not not common in everyday life. Or think of time travelers from those same sources. Visit the past, wave a gun around and shoot some things and suddenly you are viewed with fear because the people can't grasp how you did what you did. It is unknown and thus feared.
    Now this is all common sense, or at least I would think so, but there is another side to this whole phenomena.

    By naming things you give them certain qualities. One of the things you name and thus describe is yourself. Our language is a tool to control our world and our fears, but in doing so we also control ourselves. I am not abdicating and end to science and our quest for knowledge, but more and more by defining things, we are limiting ourselves.
    I'll get back to how science fits in this in a bit, but for now I want to talk about how we are controlling, and thus limiting ourselves.

    As we grow and go throughout life, we are labeled by countless people. We are sons or daughters, employees, bosses, mothers and fathers, students, teachers, patients, etc. With each label, there comes a preconceived idea of what it means to be what we are, and thus what we aren't. Think about it this way:

    Man one: "Hey, I've got this great new idea about gravity."
    Man two: "You're a patent clerk, not a physicist. Now get back to work."

    By labeling ourselves and others, we limit what we think they are capable of and also what they themselves think they are capable of. Tell someone they are wrong long enough, and most of the time they will start to think they are wrong all the time, even when they aren't. If you come to believe that you can't do something, chances are you will never try. Its not simply because people tell you this and you believe them; its not that you are a sheep. Its how our language works.

    Like I said before, we are all labeled. If we are a student, we are expected to accept that our 'teacher' knows more than we do about the subject. This instantly puts the idea in our heads that we should blindly eat up what ever is put in front of us and not question anything we are told. Math, history, science: Its all taught to us in a "and that's how it is" manner, when the truth is that it is all created, man made ideas. History is constantly being revised. Math is constantly expanding. And science is a collection of theories. Theories die, and new ones are hailed in their place. Too often the ideas that people are taught are taken in blindly and thought to be infallible. In this respect science and religion are one and the same. Lets take relativity for example. I'm not saying that's wrong or inaccurate. What I am saying is that its been put high on a pedestal where its next to impossible to question. It toppled newtonian ideas, and someday it might be toppled in much the same way. Right now, however, we have a generation of people that believe that it is law and will never fail us. The fact that Relativity and QM have irreconcilable differences isn't in the foreground. We are promised that someday something will bring the two happily together, when the truth could very well be that that day will never come because one or both might be wrong.

    So what is the point of all of this?
    1.) What makes those few people that figure out how to think out of the box, so to speak, able to break the bonds of language and the conditioning it subjects us to?

    2.) What can be done to alter or fix these problems inherent in language?

    3.)Opinions and thoughts on my babbling?
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  3. Guyute Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    I always love to listen to your babbling....no, this all makes sense. I enjoy this one Mephura.....(if you want to see babbling, read what babbeling is then look up and see what i wrote

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  5. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    Part Two: More ranting

    A different aspect of this also worth evaluating would be your ability to adapt to new situations and new surroundings. Somewhere in the definition of who you are as a person, or perhaps in conjunction to it, would be a definition of what your life consists of. what to expect and what not to expect. What concerns you should have and what you should be prepared for. Again, by defining this, we exercise an aspect of control. When we say that something can't happen in our lives we block of the idea of what would happen if it did. We can entertain the idea in hypothetical situations, but part of us is still resting happily with the 'knowledge' that the situation is only hypothetical and can never happen. If the unexpected happens, we find ourselves hard pressed to deal with it in a controlled manner, ie panic.

    How often have you heard the phrases "ruin my life", "turned everything upside down", "flipped the script" etc?
    Now how is it possible for anything to have such a drastic effect on us, short of literally killing us? Simple. Its changes our definition of what is possible in our lives or a given situation. It forces us to redefine things, making things no longer fit together like they used to.
    I guess the question then becomes what good comes from this complacency?
    It leads us to be unprepared for many situations while not giving us any beneficial quality in return.

    It also makes us easier led.
    Think of popular culture. Why is it popular culture? Who decides this?
    It isn't the majority. Popularity is sold as something important to your life. You should wear this, look like that, listen to those bands, know about these events. In the end, if any of it had any true quality to it, it wouldn't go out of style. Bands come and go and fashions change. The fact that all of these 'popular' things seem to become so overnight doesn't seem to phase many, because they are too worried with catching up with the trend.
    Our language has been used against us.
    It has taught us not to think, not to imagine, but to follow; to accept blindly those things set before us. Mind you by us I don't mean any of us specifically, though I could name a few. I refer to instead the masses. The ones that buy what they are sold and believe what they are told.

    When did thinking for yourself go out of style?

    Its a funny little paradox. History is filled with people that are respected and remembered because they challenged convention, thought outside the box, and went against the grain. They were prepared to face the consequences of their actions. Did the explorers of yesterday have any idea what they were really going to find in the wilds? If they didn't, then they were actively searching out the unknown. They had to be prepared to deal with new situations and couldn't have lived in the safe little box so many of us cling to today. Did the great scientists go along with everything they learned? Of course not, or we wouldn't be using these machines right now. Again they had to be ready to accept the unknown and redefine their lives.
    The paradox being that as much as these people are respected for there deeds and thoughts, we are taught from a very early age to be just the opposite. Follow the rules. Don't question convention. Know your place. Mind your manners. Don't think things like that. Don't talk about that. This is how it is, learn it and love it.
    Just shut up and do what you are told.

    Here lies the greatest prank of all time. We have that beaten in to our heads so long, that we start to believe it. When the opportunity to step outside you role comes along, most will shy away in fear. We yearn for something more, something greater than what we are born to, and when it knocks on the door, we refuse to answer for fear that its some monster come to devour us whole.
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  7. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Of course we are. As soon as men move to mark nature's palette with their fingerprints, be it either to maim or fix it, its still control. The very fact that you're molding anything when you have no business doing it is counterintuitive. I don't think nature was ever meant to be touched, and it doesnt matter whether its a despot wronging and raping her or a tree hugging naturalist playing nice or not. Its still control.

    Agreed. Language of course makes labeling possible. And labeling, deary, is a cheap way to go about things because when you label you don't have to explain why or know why or show why.

    Call somebody and "atheist" and you don't have to explain what's wrong with him.

    By labeling you just up and say it and swindle the world out of "why's". Case in point: what 's gravity?
    A phenomenal glitch in spacetime attracting one body to the other.
    Ok- now why is it that this strange force should be attracting these two bodies?
    Becuase........its gravity.

    And I'll grant that you're right on the exclusivity in science. Scinetists do a buttload of shoe-fitting with their theories and "discoveries". Consider for one the expedition to the solar eclipse in Brazil under astrophysist Sir Eddington in the early 1900s- he threw out half the photographic plates that would have conflicted with Einstein's prediction on relativity.

    The same can be said about the lazy habits people have for labeling God. What is he? Energy. Oh? In that case you can find God in a snack machine, a battery, a lightbulb and a dildo.
    You're not thinking. You're fucking labeling.

    Thinking for themselves, winking wide awake and rubbing out the sleepglue. And in the case for those that breeze through life not wanting to do their own thinking or discovering that its even possible for them to do so, their chance to break through the labels comes with tragedy and drama.


    Example: A father's a father, but until this father pushes me out of the path of a speeding truck doing sixty to save me, I'd feel feel daughtery. I'd feel my sibling if we cried together or she gave me her spleen.
    Pregnant, I'd feel like a woman. Of course there's many other delicious ways to feel like one, but being preggo is the best one.

    I'd feel daughter and sister and mother throbbing in my body then and only then.

    Other than that, I wear the labels like lipstick (did we not cover this?)

    Other than give up the small talk, the quick push by scientists and laity to slap things with labels, and the spinning of tales to define the unknowable.................not a goddamn thing.



  8. Xenu BBS Whore Registered Senior Member

    I like your posts Mephura.

    As humans, we've simplified our worlds, by developing language and rationality. Although our thoughts don't quite make up what our worlds are really about, they are close enough to be very useful tools. Yes they are used to control things, but I'd say that not all control is bad. Being passive sloths would get us nowhere but dead. Humans innately strive and it takes control to do that.

    However, I can see where it has gone too far, like you mentioned above. We've become control freaks. We have knit a security shelter, saying how the world should be. This often prevents us from seeing how the world really is.

    However our quest to control the planet has limits, because the planet has limits. If we control the planet too much, we upset delicate balances and we fuck ourselves, and then we become more aware of how little control we actually have. The universe wins in the end.
  9. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    hmmmm......something tells me you're masking this under the guise of "language" when what you're really doing is trying to get at something else entirely.

    Am I ................wrong? Yes? No? Maybe so? Eenie meenie mynee moe?
  10. ripleofdeath Registered Senior Member

    a quick translation for your information

    what do you do for a job
    what type of car do you have
    where do you live
    where were you born
    what does your parents do
    where do your parents live
    would you consider your parents middle class
    what school did you go to
    what sports do you play
    what church or groups or music do you listen to

    thats 10 off the top of my head for you to
    create a frame work for your construct as a trial peice
    working model
    it would take you too long to read all the books in the world
    so move forward to the interface level

    groove on

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  11. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    Thank you.
    I'll agree that there has to be limits to what we can control, but I believe that we will be blind to those limits until it is too late. In short:
    We're all fucked
    (just ask Pual Dixon lol)

    Elsewhere I gave you some credit for helping to inspire this thread, but it is about how, through language, we define ourselves and others and thus limit and hinder the same.

    I would answer your questions, but it would only give you an incomplete and misleading picture of me. For instance, iwas born in ohio and i live in ohio, but that doesn't mean I've been here my whole life. I just happen to be back right now.
  12. Xerxes asdfghjkl Valued Senior Member

    Hmm..I have about two minutes to point this out - without having the read the entire thread:

    You're little comment about Einstein.. is wrong. His co-workers were very supportive of him. In fact, he even thought up parts of relativity while speaking to them. Talk was his way of putting his numbers into words and then into a common language.

    Not that it has significant relevance to the thread.
  13. ripleofdeath Registered Senior Member


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    i have erred in my translation of madness

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    i was not asking you all those questions
    i would not be soo nosey
    i was suggesting that you correlate the common way that those questions are used in every day life
    they all have a common factor
    you need to find what the common factor is

    use the questions as a template
    then correlate the answers as a form of,
    type of data
    i hope that makes more sence

    groove on

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  14. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    ho-hum. In that case:

    Says Mopho:
    hahaha.....ha. "Controlled manner" i.e. panic. Classic.

    Stance 1:
    Stance 2:
    Stance 3:
    Fear is stronger than will, love, and friendship. Its terribly easy to forget, but "Nature" and "Life" are the only two things in this world that never, ever, ever fail in not giving a shit about where you stand on things. Its up to you then to keep to whatever shred of sanity you can in the face of chaos.

    Fear is louder than jealousy. It's louder than hatred, anger, sadness, happiness and melancholy. So its up to each his own to keep the balance and defend himself against swarthy opportunism that threatens to kill, maim or thrown him off course.

    When the world globalized and began to have "mass"

    And its not so much that we're being taught to not question convention or follow rules or being bred to be f-u-c-k-i-n-g drones, even though there's some truth in that. Its that this is the age of 'pastiche'. Its that this is the poutpourri age of "been there" and "done that".

    Ever feel like that?

    There's no more Oregon Trails. No unchartered oceans and mystical god kings of faraway islands to set out and treasure hunt. No more silk roads. No more strange continents or Mongolian deserts to plow through and make it to China like the Polos. The problem is that so much has been done it almost feel like now we're all dressed up but have nowhere to go, if you follow.
    Back then you had to have the gamblers and globetrotters becuase one, we were still babies and two, there was so much to do. So, from Columbus, to de Gama, to Cortez, to Marco Polo, to Napoeleon and to Einstein the long trip has made originallity incredibly difficult and pioneering avante guard almost a thing of the past. I almost feel beat.
  15. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member


    Soooooo........................yet another thread ready for embalming?
  16. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member


    I think i see what you are getting at, but I feel the approach is wrong. I understand now that the error was mine in that I did not fully realize what I was attempting to get at in the beging.

    The questions do have a common factor. I would say that the common factor is that they seek to remove unknowns about some one. Removing unknowns reduces fear and thus gives one an illusion of control. The more you know about some one, the better chance you have of predicting their reactions.


    True enough but, as you said, of little relevance. That would the reason I refrained from using names. I was going more for the social stigma that comes with being labled which attempts to keep us from moving outside of a defined definition.

    and lastly but surely not least gendanken

    I must thank you. Between you and ripple I have discovered what target I'm seeking.

    Here is what made me finally find the question I've been poking around for. I believe you are right about fear being the greatest of motivators, at least in most circumstances.

    So here it is:
    We have a language and culture based upon naming, and thus defining, things. This stems from a natural urge to control our environment. The urge to control, or at least have the illusion of control, is a device used to lessen fear. The question then becomes what is the nature of fear.

    At somepoint in history, this fear could not have existed. Most animals in their natural state don't show fear unless it is warrented. If a preditor is detected before they are at death's door, fear is shown in a fight or flight instinct. Natural instincts are one of the hardest things to teach an animal not to immediately heed. The interesting thing is this: Humans possess almost no instincts that hold the same deep roots that those of other animals do. The only real difference is not that we think, but how we think.

    I propose that the ability to consider abstract concepts removes instincts from their place of power. While not intirerly banished, they are greatly subdued. This comes from being able to question why we feel these urges and their validity to the actual situation. Instincts, however, played a very important role. They acted as a set of instructions that allowed us to function without needing to think. In essence, they allowed us to dispose of most of our fear.
    With out this set of instincts that acted as a source of 'knowing', we were suddenly left with a world full of the unknown. Ergo, a new control system had to develop, that being language.

    While it is true that many species have a primitive language based on communicating dangers or abundant resources, or even to coordinate attacks, ours is one that has grown beyond concrete principles into something that can encompass vague ideas and notions not found in reality. This however also had the effect of opening more doors to the unknown, thus calling for more control.

    If we were to take this a step father in to the realms of genetic memory, we could suddenly and very easily explain the herd mentality that seems to be a growing phenomenon in our current society. There was a time when our great enemy, fear, was not constantly at our door. That was a time when we thought less. Instead, we blindly followed the herd, as other social animals do.

    This also finds a reason behind the the relation we see in intelligence and depression. In thinking, most generally find fault with the herd mentality and thus regect it. However people are social animals. In regecting the herd, you knowingly (at least on a subconscious level) make yourself an outcast from society.

    To get back to your reply gendanken,
    I agree with you. This is the age of pistache. There are, and always will be, those few that still strive to find new realms in which to play, but society no longer wants that. Society wants normal, happy, comfortable. They don't want to have to adapt to yet more unknowns. Anything that forces the masses to think for themselves (if such a thing were possible), or even think outside of their safe little predefined world, will be met with distrust, dislike, and an urge to end it.

    I have felt much in the way you discribe; That its all been done, and there is nothing left for me.

    However, I realized that nothing had been done and everything was still open quite sometime ago. I haven't done any of those things yet. I haven't discovered china, new peoples, or the serenity found on top of a mountain. Doing those things will force me out of my defined, comfortable life, but then again I don't like being defined.
  17. man on the hill Registered Member

    I thought so at first too geddanken but now I realize maybe he was only trying to give an example of a phrase that has been over used and abused. I guess the question is: did that particular statement have more personal meaning? But none the less I like his thread and what hes written so far.

    I think if everyone in the world woke up tomorrow having lost their language, erased from their brains, we would be in some major shit. I agree 100% that language has done more harm then good to man kind but we have dug ourselves a pit and the only thing that keeps us from being burried alive is being able to share our thoughts with other people like we are doing right now on these forums. I guess you could say that were feeding off the plant that poisons us simply because its the only plant there is to eat. But if you bring yourself back a bit and speculate again from outside, maybe we were meant to have language, that it was predetermined or bound to happen. This is probably the shortest way to explain language.

    A sentence uttered makes a world appear
    Where all things happen as it says they do.
    We doubt the speaker, not the words we hear.
    Words have no words for words that are not true.
    W.H. Auden
  18. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Says Mephura:
    So you're saying that having been weaned from the savage and primal we were left with the odd task of having to tame the immediate with something brand new, language, and messed ourselves up in the process? Ditto.

    Language is a runaway cultural developement. It displaces, unleashes and makes shadows where there aren't any. No one can tame it. I have my very own fascinating theories on language, one that I had a long time ago that ties into brain duality.

    But is this the place for it...............or am I hijacking?

    Man on hill:
    ooohhoOOh-ho. Excellent! Never thought it quite like that before. Or like a nice bottle of vodka? Kind of like squatting down in the midst of the chaos gathered around a bonfire and drinking away the stress and turmoil with the very thing that's harming you: vodka, eating out your liver ; laguage, eating out your brain. Man of the hill.......you thrill me.

    Willy put it nicely too:

    Truth sir, I can yield none without words, and words are grown so false I am loathe to prove reason with them.
  19. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    man on the hill

    Close. Actually I was doing three things.
    1.) Exactly as you said. Showing over used phrases/words and how they lose their meanig from such abuse.

    2.) Questioning why people think that 'their world wold end' if they are faced with a situation that doesn't fit easily into their life definitions.

    3.) Get at something else entirely as gendanken so astutely observed.

    I like to multi-task...

    Anyway, the poisen plant example works very well, especially if kept in mind when reading gendaken's first paraghraph in the above post.

    Yes, you have the idea completely. I've begun thought over the next level in my digging to the root of this. Unfortunately I was sidetracked by god and numbers last night.

    As for tying into brain duality, I'd love to hear it. I'm searching for answers here, so anything that you can bring to the table is greatly appreciated.
  20. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Allright.............as far as the brain goes, science has found that the organ works its magic out in halfves, with each side controlling the functions of the body's other half respectively.

    Research has shown the left side to be the analytical side, the side obsessed with patterns, functions, sequentials and the one to be overall pragmatic.

    The right has been shown to be the holistic one, more in tune to spatial dimensions, awareness, and emotion.

    Together the two work like a coloring book. Given a face, the left sees an outline and draws out a rough sketch of a face in general while the right jumps in to fill in the outline with the colors of depth, texture and familiarity that lets you know that face is your mother's.

    With me so far?
  21. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, with you so far..
  22. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Ok..........now, given that the left is so manic about patterns and making things, there's reason to belive that at some point in those days when we were moving farther and farther apart from the animals the left side was getting a workout.

    When we started making things, the left fed on that. When we started dabbling in systems, the left tightened up some more.
    When we started thinking, the left, like the strongest chick in a bald eagle's nest clawed the opportunity and started working its magic.
    It began talking.

    When there was chaos on the outside and the men found themselves stripped of their instinct, odd things began to seep in. This magic brewing on the left was giving them some kind of purpose and planning in the midst of the chaos. Some kind of way out. Something mother nature probably had no clue was even possible but we kept at and kept at it, the goal now being to tame fear.

    The fascnitating thing in all this is this: given any population, any population, over 90% of the inhabitants are right handed. Always. See the connection?

    Still with me?
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2003
  23. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member


    I think I see where this is going now. I like. Do please continue on. The more of this that I can soak up the more strange rants I can go on.

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