The Mysticism of Language


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In the beginning was the word, the word
That from the solid bases of the light
Abstracted all the letters of the void;
And from the cloudy bases of the breath
The word flowed up, translating to the heart
First characters of birth and death.

Dylan Thomas, “In the Beginning”

Language is a double-edged sword. It can illuminate meaning but it can also obliterate and swamp it in verbosity. I have never seen the language as a tool over which we are masters: I rather think that our language speaks us. That we choose words may be an illusion, perhaps they choose us. In an essay Onthe Way to Language, written by Martin Heidegger in 1959, he wrote famously and beautifully: “Language is the house of Being.” He complained there about the state of language, how worn out and jaded it was, how devoid of any deeper meaning…

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