Which came first: the ability to speak, or the need to say something? What came first, of course, was silence.
For the very first word ever spoken, nearly a million years ago, the preparations had been profound. Over eons, the vocal apparatus had moved up in the throat; and the jaw, oral cavity, muscles and tissue had evolved, to enable the fine nuances we now use to differentiate so glibly among all the things we’ve come to name from silence.
For far the greater part of human history, words were only spoken; most of our ancestors never saw one. Writing came only yesterday, the printing press an hour ago, word processing just now. But today we see words everywhere: streets lined with them, books full of them, cyberspace alive with them, all the outgrowth of that awesomely simple brocade of silence and sound that has woven into languages, litanies, literatures, politics, semiotics, soap operas, propaganda — the list is as endless as each living word, nourished by the infinite.
It is this mystic interweaving that we illuminate in poetry, that we savor in conversation, that we honor in rhetoric, that solaces us in sorrow and that deepens us in love, but that can leave us spellbound in dogma, if we remain asleep to meaning; this is why we must nurture words, fathom them and honor them, but above all truly hear and speak them; we must bear words in mind as in breath, lest we lose their power, in a modern world where the words we hear and see, like the lives we live, seem less and less informed by silence.
Beyond Envelopes – Why Taro Can’t Surf – Television vs. Storytelling – A Propaganda Model – Mad Earth – Duck Gets the Word – Launch or Lunch – The Great Gairaigo Confusion – “Burma” Joins Japan’s Newspeak Blacklist – Faith & Logic: Life in a Kyoto Monastery – The Folk Song Collector – Spring Snow – The Art of Translation – Wordless Words & The Evolution of Poetry –Between Words and Ki – Word in Landscape – Oolong – Lover’s Wish – Darkness in the Throat– The Poetless Poem: Deviant English and the Para-Poetic– Canned Foreign – The Power of the Name – Rocking in Russian or Power Chords from the Underground – Speaking in Tongues–