Friday, January 02, 2004


There are spells within time and language by which words are transformed and no longer hold precisely the old meaning because of their new shape, which causes them also to be pronounced differently in the language of the current tongue, and then some generations down the etymological expressway there is an exclamation of surprise at the discovery that a given word, so native to the tip of this very own tongue, stems from a tongue that spoke the word differently a long time ago, a word that in its turning came from an even longer-ago tongue that spoke another of the same language altogether, passing the word along the length of breath from the hum of beginning, just as all things and people and tongues have been passed along without cessation if they exist today, and transcending the surprise is the enlightenment that 'your' language is not yours at all, but a borderless portion of a vast, living, autonomically shifting mindlight aurora that illumines the earth and outlives us each and can never be pinned down as so many have so humanly vaingloriously tried to do, and that this one endless breath that is language, as it breathes through you is breathing you too, breathing you into meaning, for you think along the lines and seams it allows you, as dictators (from the Latin root dicere, "to speak"), for example, have always known, and that the freedom and flexibility in your language correlate with the freedom and flexibility in your life; you are as free as your language, and as confined, unless you go beyond its edges into the wilds...

[Adapted from the version originally published in Kyoto Journal "Word" issue, #29, 1995]

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