A War of Words

Uncomfortably Numb
The Interactive Newsletter You Never Asked For

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A War of Words
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Surrounded? Look at your surroundings and say, “Wait a minute. If I am surrounded by my surroundings, what does that mean? And what do those words actually mean?”
—UnNumb / Issue One (take three)

Are you beginning to understand our quandary?

Semanticists like Alfred Korzybski and Benjamin Whorf warned that Indo-European languages trap us in a fragmented model of life… Korzybski warned that we will not grasp the nature of reality until we realize the limitation of words. Language forms our thought, thereby setting up barriers…
It’s a paradox. We need language to communicate these notions, but our language is—by definition—an inappropriate tool to use.
—UnNumb / Issue One

So many remarkable trails are there to be discovered once you begin to grasp the nature of our surroundings. In Second Chances, I wrote of “being aided in this struggle to awaken.” When I first encountered the surround/surroundings/ environment interconnections, I spent weeks tracing the trails that led from word to word, from concept to concept, until a cohesive story began to emerge.

This emerging story scared the shit out of me more than once, but that was probably part of what it took to begin the process of awakening such a thick-headed sod.

In tracing this particular trail, some very strange word groupings began to come to my attention. One of the most curious is the “message in a bottle” suggestion. Here’s two enchanting pairs of words, sitting side-by side on one page, daring (or pleading for) anyone to take notice:

en•ci•pher To put (a message) into cipher.
en•cir•cle 1. To form a circle around; surround.

en•clo•sure 1. The act of enclosing.
en•code To put (a message) into code.

Of course, the primary definition of “enclose” begins with these surprising words: “To surround on all sides…” Look up “cipher,” and within the definition is a directive to “Compare code.” Look up “code,” and within that definition is a directive to “Compare cipher.” Trace almost any trail outward, and the definitions continue to converge on the central story. It’s almost as if someone, or something, folded our language back on itself.

One line within the definition for “enclose” just now jumped out at me: “To insert in the same envelope or package with the main letter.” What if…

It is only when his parents send him a letter reminding him of his heritage and his mission that he awakens, recovers the pearl and returns home enriched.
—Yatri / Unknown Man

In this example, the circumstances of coincidence would be the “main letter.” The meaning of words we use to understand our circumstances would be that which is “enclosed” within our envelope or package (“with the main letter”). The envelope or package, in turn, sent to us in this “what if” would be The Space-Time Continuum.

Just thinking out loud… It’s pretty far-out, but, what if?

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The Space-Time Continuum may not fit into the palm of our hand, but maybe we can begin to understand it by examining the words we use to define it. As we have discovered, some words seem to hold clues that hint at explanations to some of the fundamental questions of existence.

Every symbol has a hidden premise behind it. Every word carries unspoken assumptions buried in the history of the language and the conditioning experiences of the speakers. If you snatch those buried meanings out of your words, you spill a whole stream of new understanding into your awareness.
—Frank Herbert / Destination Void

This line of reasoning seems especially appropriate when examining the universe from our western point of view. After all, doesn’t our primary religious text say something relevant about this?

In the beginning, was the Word…
—John 1:1

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