Before I dive right in, let me recommend some readings: Paul Auster's City of Glass (found in his New York Trilogy), sections of the Bible referring to the Tower of Babel (sorry, I can't quite remember the chaper/verses), Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalysis. Yeah, I know. Hard to things to find, much less read. Anyway, from my swirling knowledge of these texts, and my experiences in life, I have had some interesting thoughts on language, especially of its failure therein. What is language? Whether audible, or physical, or visible, it merely seems to be a form of communication-or rather a way of transforming experiences into an organized set of symbols. Because of a language's extensive use, many intellectuals, academians, artists, and thinkers alike have come to grips with its failure to accurately transmute experience. In other words, how well can one communicate with a language. If one were to say, "I saw a dog", how would that be interepreted by another person. It's obvious that variations will occur in different people's perception of what sizes, colors, or breeds the dog was. Needless to say, that sentence is flawed by its lack of description. We can, however, continue on and say, "I saw a shaggy, brown haired golden retriever who sat about 2 1/2 feet tall, and weighed about 95 lbs." That statement, would probably give the average person a really good idea of what I saw. That is to say, if I meant what I was saying. For the moment, forget the idea that I could have lied. I might not have been fluent in English, and might have been trying to say "Where is the bathroom?" Although that example seems to be a little ludicrous, think how it applies in real terms. What if somebody doesn't know what "brown" is? How do each of us know that what we know as brown, is the same thing as what another sees as brown? There could be tone differences, or in the case of somebody who is color blind, it could be an entirely different color.
Another problem with the statement is that, from my experience, statements become so trite that they hardly mean anything. If I were to hear somebody say "I saw a dog", on most occasions, I wouldn't automatically begin to picture a dog. I'd naturally accept it as what I just heard, in other words a bunch of sounds that I'm familiar with. This is essentially, the breakdown of language. It loses the experiential qualities, that it may have at one time had. Of course, this breakdown occurs in many forms of communication, including art. Artists deal with transmuting experience on a daily basis. Henri Matisse, particularly, tried with his paintings to condense emotion and experience into single pictures-colors, brushstrokes, etc. Communication seems to be another of those confusing concepts in life that contributes to its illogical, chaotic, and imperfect attributes. Maybe Paul Auster's Peter Stillman Sr. has it licked-discover the ancient language and paradise can be achieved.