Er,…What I mean to say is…

There is nothing like the arrangement of words to keep things lively. In an earlier blog (“Rivers & The Clash between the Earth and the World”), I wrote about the difference between the Earth and World. In this Thursday’s blog, I am reminded how the simple re-arrangement of identical words can make a world of earthly difference.

In this picture are two book covers. Each has taken the same 5 words for their titles, but arranged them in different order. Both are very good books, by the way. Nevertheless, each tells a very different story about…Reality. On the left, the presumption is that the social world emerges out of Reality (ie., built up from the stuff of the earth). On the right, the suggestion is the opposite – Reality, as we know it, emerges out of the social world. Of course, in their way both books make perfectly good sense. It all depends on what one feels like talking about.

From AIIOE, for example…

Words are just sounds: My question comes with neither irony nor defensiveness, even though I know how much hangs on an old story; on the choice of words used to tell it, uttered by chance, gambling the present for a future world. A future world for both of us, determined by the simple arrangement of odd but distinct sounds. Strange grunts, snaps, and hisses issued from a beating heart, full of consequence. Miryam does not answer. I speak, relieved.

Words don’t mean what they sound like without proper context: I got my undergraduate degree. In fact, I got two degrees. One in the “Sociology of Engineering Science” and the other in the “Science of Social Engineering.” I crafted them both in an interdisciplinary tour de force, right under the nose of the faculty. I was smarter than even I thought. I outwitted my professors, spinning the same papers from one academic degree to the other, all the while, having sex with as many ethnic classmates as I could get my hands on.

Words always refer to other words in the great Chain of Meaning,  sometimes even in the case of the phatic:  Liberty reaches over and touches my arm – body language – conveying both forgiveness and more bad information. “Nicole is getting married, Taylor,” she says, softly. There it is,…even worse than I’d imagined. Stanley Kowalski bellows again. Or was it me? “Kidding…your…is…what?” Proper speech has been sucker-punched out of me; my mouth hangs open like a hatchling waiting for a masticated worm.

So when your interlocutor looks at you as if you’re both about to fall off the top scaffold of the Tower of Babel, pop those words into a dice cup, shake them up, and hope for an anagram that says what you mean.

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