The futility of words

“Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.”

— Carl Jung

My research into the insufficiency of language yields some nice results. Thank you Google.


To Gustav Schmaltz
30 May 1957
Dear Schmaltz:

I understand your wish very well, but I must tell you at once that it does not fit in my with my situation. I am not getting on at 82 and feel not only the weight of my years and the tiredness this brings, but even more strongly, the need to live in harmony with the inner demands of my old age. Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words. I have got my marching orders and only look back when there is nothing else to do. The journey is a great adventure in itself, but not one that can be talked about at great length. What you think of as a few days of spiritual communion would be unendurable for me with anyone, even my closest friends. The rest is silence! This realization comes clearer every day, as the need to communicate dwindles.

Naturally, I would be glad to see you for one afternoon for about two hours, preferably in Kusnacht, my door to the world. Around August 5 would suit me best, as I shall be home at then in any case. Meanwhile, with best greetings,

Yours ever,
Jung.

I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words

Carl Jung

Clearly, the main theme here is solitute and slience, but I keyed in on the futility quote.

Foucault Identity

‘Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: Leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.’

—Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge & the Discourse on Language

I am going to take liberal liberty with Foucault’s quote. This is another take on Heraclites’ ‘never the same man, never the same river’ quote. It can be taken as a commentary on identity and impermanence. Effectively, he is taking the position that the concept of identity is a silly question, so don’t bother asking about it. Then he defers to people who insist on it anyway.

To be fair, creating a sort of contiguous identity does simplify things and creates categorical conveniences.

Vendor: ‘Wasn’t it you who purchased that from me and promised to pay with future payments?

Zen: ‘There is no future. There is only now. And I am not the same person who purchased your car.

Perhaps this is where the saying, ‘Possession is 9/10 of the law‘, a nod to temporal presentism.

In any case, some systems are predicated on their being identity, so a person benefiting from that system will insist on the notion of identity.

Clearly, I’m rambling in a stream of consciousness, and it occurs to me that Blockchain offers a solution to identity, at least conceptually. In the case of Blockchain, one can always audit the contents of the past in the moment. And so it carries the past into the now.

If one were able to capture into an archive every possible historical interaction down to the smallest unit of space-time—neutral incident recording, indexing and retrieval challenges notwithstanding—, one could necessarily attribute the record with the person, so long as they are otherwise inseparable. (We’re all well-aware of the science fiction narrative where a person’s history or memory is disassociated, so there is that.)

Anyway, I’ve got other matters to tend to, but now this is a matter of historical record…

Whom do you serve?

Something happened to me which was outside my own plans, and after that I went where I was taken.

TH White, The Once and Future King

An Internet friend led me to this quote. I felt it was appropriate to share in reflection of 2020, not only for me but many people who were forced to go with the flow.

The quote reminded me of the mid-1990s, a time when I was steeped in the archetypal and depth psychology of Jung and Hillman. I also read a lot of works pertaining to the Holy Grail. I decided to composite the quote onto the cover image. I’m not asking for a holy grail. Let’s just hope 2021 fares better than 2020 by most accounts.

Judging Language

Just a brief post today. I had forgotten about this Steven Pinker quote I shared elsewhere a few years back.

“Judges are not very good linguists. For better or worse, they try to find a way around the most natural interpretation of a sentence if it would stand in the way of the outcome they feel is just.”

Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct

The fact is that they do not care about the lack of specificity of language. Politicos revel in the fact that they can torture language into submission to meet their own objectives. This is the power of rhetoric.

As I have reviewed my posts over the past couple of years, it seems I repeat myself, repeat myself, repeat myself, repeat… I get a sudden urge to capture a notion, and it turns out that I had already written about it before. I’d just forgotten.

What I need to do is to formulate a cogent distilled version, but I can’t quite seem to get there. For now, I’ll just share this.