From Fantasy to Reality: Conlanging as Psychosocial Activism

The seventh Language Creation Conference was held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada this year.  It featured a wonderful spectrum of presentations on general and very technical aspects of creating languages.  We also got to see the world premier of a film on Conlanging.  Here is my talk.  All the rest are on YouTube (search LCC7).

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The Future of Language

Or perhaps, better titled, “Language of the Future.” Lots of trends are converging to create an opening to take language broadband, the theme of this blog.  We now live in what is called a “post-truth” world, one that George Orwell would be cringing to know that he foresaw. We also live in a time of great creativity in the realm of constructed languages. And if there were an Irony Index, it would be skyrocketing. I think these are nascent signs that the deficient integral (read Jean Gebser’s The Ever Present Origin) is emerging more strongly into consciousness.  Let us foster its development into efficient integral consciousness.  To that end, let me share with you my most recent publication, “An Emergent Language of Paradox: Riffs on Steven M. Rosen’s Kleinian Signification of Being.”  Steve Rosen’s article can be found here.

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The Emotional Dissonance of Paradox Regained

052I just returned from a visit to Chicago, which was my home for 25 years, the longest span I have lived in one place. I moved out of Chicago a year ago, so going back there to visit friends resulted in a plethora of conflicting feelings that I am calling “emotional dissonance.”  The term is derived from the more general term “cognitive dissonance,” which refers to “the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions” (from Wikipedia).

It occurred to me that, as we come to embrace the paradox(es) in our lives and integrate paradox into our language, we will be confronted more often and have to be able to deal with cognitive and emotional dissonance.  In the same way that fear and excitement are two different experiences of the release of adrenalin into the bloodstream, emotional dissonance can be a pleasant or an unpleasant experience depending on the meaning you give it.  Since paradox has mostly been abhorred by our culture, emotional dissonance carries with it an unpleasant connotation. But that need not be so… Continue reading

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Deconstructing the Metaphoric Basis of Language, Or, Making Visible One of the Infrastructures of its Invisible Architecture

 

Using the methods of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in Metaphors We Live By, I’m doing the following analysis to expose the metaphors that might slip through the unconscious as we read something as basic as the opinion page in the newspaper, in this case, my local newspaper, the Monterey County Weekly.  Granted, I specifically chose a piece that makes it easy to see the metaphors, as this is the first of this type of analysis that I am posting here.

Why expose the metaphors (note, the metaphor I just used is PROSE IS A CLOTHED BODY)?  Because, by and large, we don’t know that we’re using them.  We did not learn them explicitly; we picked them up by imitating how others used language. They structure our language (text, speech) just below the level of consciousness.  Mr. Greider, as a seasoned writer, might be more aware of using them than most people, but I chose his opinion piece because I could readily imagine people at a party or sitting around the kitchen table talking this way.

After I analyze his piece for the implicit metaphors, I will rewrite it using different metaphors, just to show that it is possible.  To inspire, not to say “these are better.”  No.  The point is to BE CREATIVE.  Get out of the clichés. In order to transform language (which is what this blog is about), we have to know how we are using language in the first place (and how it is using us).  Continue reading

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From Language 2.0 to Language ∞

jellyfishWe’re immersed in language like fish in water. I often use that analogy to describe how blind we are to the linguistic world in which we swim, how its structure enables our being in the way that the ocean enables the being of this jellyfish. It is “invisible” to us if we just use language without looking at how we use it or how it uses us. Continue reading

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Language as an Invisible Architecture

squmarchesini-headquarters-by-lan-architecture-lan_mar_bd_3

First, let’s look at visible architecture and the effect it has on us.  Imagine walking into each of the buildings in the pictures above. What felt sense do you have? What kind of “world” is created inside of each building? The architecture literally defines the space inside of which the inhabitants or users of the building operate. It can channel movement through narrow hallways or leave movement unrestricted in large open rooms. It can encourage certain activities or discourage them. (You wouldn’t try square dancing in a church, what with all those pews in the way.  Or maybe you would, I don’t know.)  Continue reading

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Shifting the Very Nature of Relationship

The post that started with the Arjuna Ardagh quote

Cloud Gate, aka The Bean

could have gone off in another direction.  What Ardagh and Watts both propose is essentially a radical shift in the nature of relationship. They are proposing that there is no “other.” So, what you perceive to be other than you, or not-I, actually is still all you. Whoa. If I perceive it to be outside of me, literally over there, not here, then how can that be me? Indeed, a radical boundary redefinition is required. The boundaries that you think define and delimit where you are located, compared with where supposedly otherness (other things, other people, other places) is located, perhaps are an illusion. Continue reading

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Meditation to Become One With Space

This meditation is from a presentation I gave at the Lifwynn Foundation conference recently. It is intended to help you get past the boundaries of subject, object, and space.

Hence it is clear that the space of physics is not, in the last analysis, anything given in nature or independent of human thought. It is a function of our conceptual scheme [mind]. Space as conceived by Newton proved to be an illusion, although for practical purposes a very fruitful illusion
–Albert Einstein

Why is it important to reconceive of space? Although there has been lots of talk in psycho-spiritual circles about the wholeness or lack of separation between subject and object, there is still a very old assumption operating that hasn’t been questioned, namely, the assumption that space is simply a container that holds or contains the subject-objects.  It’s a useful metaphor for day-to-day living, but it is being questioned in the new paradigm. Hence, if we eventually want to be able to talk from the new paradigm, we will need to conceive of space differently. And to do that, we will need to experience ourselves as spatial beings differently. Perhaps this will help. Perhaps not.

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A HUNDRED GULLS — a poem

Well definitely not quite so many
Yes, not quite

on the jetty in the big lake today

As I watched curlicues of waves
wash over cleaning sandy shore

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My Debt and Gratitude to Barbara Marx Hubbard

There is a deliberate similarity between the title of this blog, Consciously Evolving Language, and Barbara Marx Hubbard’s book Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential. Einstein said that he stood on the shoulders of giants. I do too; she is one of them. She transformed the concept of evolution from being something that just happened outside of our control to being something within our locus of control. We don’t have to sit by and watch how we evolve(d) in the rear-view mirror! We don’t have to leave it to “chance.”  These days it is imperative that we don’t!

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Tango — a poem

I wrap my arm around you
press my heart into yours,
trusting

that I will not fall

while fading into the oblivion of music and moving and breathing and losing
myself
in the dance

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Goodbye to “It”

All somethings are someones.  –David Spangler

That quote hit me in a way that the usual psychospiritual talk doesn’t. It forced me to face up to the assumptions I have about the nature of life itself (and what is alive and what isn’t). I certainly don’t relate to most somethings as someones.  Could I bear putting the coffee beans in the grinder if I saw them as little someones? Could I throw away that shirt I haven’t worn in 5 years if she (la chemise) was a someone? Granted, sometimes I talk to my computer as if it were a someone (“Why won’t you do what I want you to do?!”), but I’m more talking out my own frustration.

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Introducing Mobius (strips) and Klein (bottles)

Two visual structures that I use a lot are the Möbius strip and the Klein bottle because they embody a paradox. Specifically, they have only one side although it seems to be two sides.  That concept is very important for what’s to come, which is why I am introducing it early on and without other content. So without further adieu, let me introduce to you, first, the Möbius strip.

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The Emerging Paradigm Shift and the Assumptions it is Questioning

“Similarly, he [David Bohm] believes that dividing the universe up into living and nonliving things also has no meaning. Animate and inanimate matter are inseparately woven, and life, too, is enfolded throughout the totality of the universe. Even a rock is in some way alive, says Bohm, for life and intelligence are present not only in all of matter, but in “energy,” “space,” “time,” “the fabric of the entire universe,” and everything else we abstract out of the holomovement and mistakenly view as separate things.”

–Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, p. 50

All somethings are someones.     –David Spangler

These new paradigm writers are asking us to question the assumptions/presuppositions we’ve had for the past few centuries. These assumptions include materialism, reductionism, and the influence of randomness.  They are asking us to investigate different assumptions such as

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My Questions for Paul Frommer, Creator of the Na’vi Language in Avatar

I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that within hours of the release of Avatar, people had decoded the made-up language in it, called Na’vi.  It’s amazing that someone could do it so quickly. I’m impressed.

But there’s one niggling thing that is bugging me. It seems to me that Na’vi was just mapped onto English—new sounds for the same concepts. Did Paul Frommer (the creator of Na’vi) simply paste our cultural assumptions (e.g., subjects and objects exist in a container called space, animals and plants can’t “talk” to humans, rocks aren’t conscious) into that language? Or did he incorporate the culture of Pandora into it?

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How Do We Speak from Wholeness?

In The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot quotes Bernie Siegel who said that “people are addicted to their beliefs. When you try to change someone’s belief they will act like an addict” (p. 6).  If we are addicted to our beliefs, we won’t give them up until we see how they are wrecking our lives. Did we choose to believe that we’re all separate beings from everybody and everything else? No, that was so firmly established both by our experience of ourselves as young children and by how others treated us, then reinforced by language that separates I from You, that we just take it for granted that we’re all separate.

Well, what if we’re not?

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Before Speaking from Oneness, Feeling It

I race sailboats. Can you believe it? A Midwest bookworm with hardly a competitive bone in her body goes out on Lake Michigan in rain, sun, wind, and no wind to tack and jibe around a few inflatable buoys practically every Saturday in the summer.  Why (aside from the fact that it’s generally a lot cooler on the lake)?

There’s a feeling you get when the sails are trimmed right for the wind—that the boat and you are in harmony. The boat practically sails herself.  She just “feels good” (which when you’re racing means that she feels fast). I like to trim the spinnaker downwind (that’s me on the right), because there’s another kind of “being one with” that happens then. After you learn all the signs to look for when trimming the “spinny” (e.g., Is the luff curling? Is the pole at the right height? Are the clews even? etc), you just feel what needs to be done and do it without having to think about it. You let your consciousness merge with the sail, and you don’t even have to analyze all those signs, your body just responds to what the sail needs. You become one with the spinnaker.

Why is it so easy, relatively speaking, to become one with inanimate objects like spinnakers and so difficult to become one with fellow human beings? Continue reading

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The Default State of Being Human

Arjuna Ardagh asks, “What have we come to accept as the default state of being human?” then answers, “Most agree that human consciousness is characterized by an unnatural sense of separateness, a sense of a ‘me’ and a ‘not me.’ We act as though we are separate from the source itself, from the divine. On the basis of this feeling of separation stands everything else that feels abhorrent to the heart—child abuse, domestic violence, people lying to and cheating each other, environmental degradation, war. All of these things arise from this feeling of ‘me’ and ‘them’ as separate, or ‘me’ and ‘the planet’ as separate” (Ardagh, 2007, p. 215).

It hasn’t been easy to decide where to start writing this blog—there are so many topics that I want to write about, from this shift in consciousness that is occurring to the need to catch language up to it—but I seem to come back to this quote over and over in the scribbling I’ve done for the past few months, so this is where I shall start. It echoes a favorite passage from Alan Watts written 30 years earlier:

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Being a Cell in the Earth Organism

Something miraculous occurs when a critical mass of individuals forms a whole.

Whole does not mean homogeneous. An engine is a whole, but is made up of lots of very different parts, each of which has a unique function. Engines, however, are static, mechanical systems. I prefer to think in terms of a living system or body, like my own.  As a medical editor, I have learned that cells are really complex little microcosms, with all kinds of proteins that start and stop cellular processes and that let other substances inside or keep them out. And there are also substances that enable cells to communicate with other cells.  Without going into the extraordinary technical detail (which I am not qualified to do anyway), just try to imagine that we humans as a species are as intricately diverse and organized as the cells in our bodies. Of course, we’re not that organized yet.  The left thumb is at war with the right pinkie, and the mouth is sucking dry the bloodstream.

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