I had lines inside me — a string of guiding lights. I had language.
Jeanette Winterson, from “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?”
Language makes thought, as much as it is made by thought. Thought inhabits language and language is its body.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Consciousness and the Acquisition of Language, translation by Hugh J. Silverman
… languages are not sciences of one another, you cannot match them item for item.
Although language bestows identity on being, being is in excess of language.
Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought
[T]here is nothing before language, for there is no consciousness, and therefore no world, without a system of signs. In fact, it is the speaking-being that has created this universe, even if language excludes him from it. This means that we are deprived through words of an authentic intimacy with what we are, or with what the Other is. We need poetry, not to regain this intimacy, which is impossible, but to remember that we miss it and to prove to ourselves the value of those moments when we are able to encounter other people, or trees, or anything, beyond words, in silence.
Language is a thing that seduced me. Language is a thing that perverted me.
The poet is someone who is permanently involved with a language that is dying and which he resurrects, not by giving it back some triumphant aspect but by making it return sometimes, like a specter or a ghost: the poet wakes up language and in order to really make the ‘live’ experience of this waking up, of this return to life of language, one has to be very close to the corpse of the language.
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To write is to make oneself the echo of what cannot cease speaking—and since it cannot, in order to become its echo I have, in a way, to silence it. I bring to this incessant speech the decisiveness, the authority of my own silence.
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All true language
Like the chatter
of a beggar’s teeth.
So much of a life is invisible, inscrutable: layers of thoughts, feelings, outward events entwined with secrecies, ambiguities, ambivalences, obscurities, darknesses strongly present even to the one who’s lived it—maybe especially to the one who’s lived it. Why should it be otherwise? I didn’t seek to find her, wandered instead within and among her fragments of language—notebooks, drafts, journals, fictions, letters, essays, and found there whole worlds like spinning planets, lived in their cold light and burning light, wondering where I was, where they might take me.
Laurie Sheck, A Monster’s Notes
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