12 July 2012

A Fragment

We begin with the supposition that the one who has nothing to say — that is, the one who intends nothing, who writes for the sake of words and not out of a calculating prudence — writes best.  This supposition, the premise at the doorstep of our "project", is obviously absurd.  Speech, says common sense, is a matter of good faith, communicating what was intended, what was held in advance, and rendering it in a way easily suited to the minds of others.  Speech is an art.  And rhetoric, the perfection of that art, is nothing less than the rogue's ability to shape men's souls with words.

Speech, then, at the outset, is a matter of exerting dominance, of turning the souls of others into the produce of craft; in speech we are all first of all social planners and demagogues.  Our premise then, our methodological supposition, is more a picture of unwarlike (un-human?) speech than a truth universally acknowledged.  Speech is first of all for persuasion and information.  But what happens if we change the goal of speech?  If speech is not for the communication of minds and production of mental states, but for its own sake?  Suppose we let language use our fingers and mouths to construct an image of its unrealized perfection.  What if words could describe themselves, and, not just gaping at the oddity of the fact, resolved into some structure that does them justice?  No irony, no recursive wittiness, no pedantic manuals of use, but language, a natural thing, blossoming and bearing fruit according to its inscribed end.  Then perhaps we speakers of words could rest a while in the shade of its branches, and quench our thirst with the dripping dew from its leaves.  Perhaps we could, learning to breath its aroma, be changed in our own dealings from petty thieves worrying about the balance of Self and Other, into something drawn out — to the stasis of a perfection, the value of which does not need to be numbered or termed, because it is for nothing.