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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Boon of Language - John Berger

All went quiet after Mr. Berger left the room (see The History of Reason - John Berger). A silence, as he might say, like that after a felled tree has fallen. His words have that effect. Mr. Berger wants you to think very seriously about the way you are using words. And with all seriousness I do too. For this reason I have held some of his words back. So let me invite him back into the room, back into the silence of the felled tree.

“The boon of language is not tenderness. All that it holds, it holds with exactitude and without pity, even a term of endearment: the word is impartial: the usage is all. The boon of language is that potentially it is complete, it has the potential of holding with words the totality of human experience - everything that has occurred and everything that may occur. It even allows space for the unspeakable. In this sense one can say of language that it is potentially the only human home, the only dwelling place that cannot be hostile to man. For prose this home is a vast territory, a country which it crosses through a network of tracks, paths, highways: for poetry this home is concentrated on a single center, a single voice, and this voice is simultaneously that of an announcement and a response to it.”

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