Nobody Expects the Coonish Linguisition! (1.17.09)
Almost as mysterious as language's ability to smuggle truth across skin boundaries is its capacity to institutionalize nonsense. One would think that "experts" in language would be immune to this problem, but expertise in any area often comes down to an agreed upon system of high-flown prejudices. It's more of an ideological hackupational gatekeeping system than a mode of truth. This can especially be seen in hindsight. Naturally, materialistic flatlanders enjoy ridiculing certain religious beliefs, but the dogmalogue of bizarre beliefs promulgated by scientific orthodoxy is no less ridiculous.
After all, science changes. It is one human activity in which you know ahead of time that you are wrong. Science deals in hypotheses and tentative conclusions, all built upon a convenient set of assumptions that are methodologically necessary but easily proven to be metaphysically incoherent. By definition these conclusions are bound to change. This is its virtue. In order to even think about reality, science must deal in models of reality, and it is always tempting to reify the abstract model and confuse it with the underlying reality. Real reality will always elude the grasp of science. But this hardly means that it eludes the grasp of man.
By contrast with science, religion deals with the timeless and eternally true. The problem is, how does one employ language in such a way that it does not relativize the absolute and reduce it to a "figure of speech?"
As Schuon wrote, "God likes to shatter and to renew forms or the husks of things; for He wants our hearts and is not content with our actions alone." You might say that God perpetually shatters speech, despite our best efforts to put it back together. Or as Joyce -- someone who knew an itsy bitsy about the allforabit -- put it, "And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkword again, there'll be iggs for the brekkers come to mournhim, sunny side up with care."
In an essay entitled The Gift of Language, the esteemed Theodore Dalrymple easily dismantles one of the orthodoxies of linguistics, the idea that language can be reduced to genetics. Here is a fine example of how an intelligent outsider with common sense can see straight through the absurdity of this or that reigning dogma or catechism. The absurdity can be seen directly by the intellect, because the intellect is made of truth and for this reason can know a priori nonsense when it sees it.
Dalrymple's experience of performing psychiatric evaluations of certain less articulate souls exactly parallels mine. He writes that,
"With a very limited vocabulary, it is impossible to make, or at least to express, important distinctions and to examine any question with conceptual care. My patients often had no words to describe what they were feeling, except in the crudest possible way, with expostulations, exclamations, and physical displays of emotion. Often, by guesswork and my experience of other patients, I could put things into words for them, words that they grasped at eagerly. Everything was on the tip of their tongue, rarely or never reaching the stage of expression out loud. They struggled even to describe in a consecutive and logical fashion what had happened to them, at least without a great deal of prompting. Complex narrative and most abstractions were closed to them."
I am well familiar with the type of person he is describing. Now, both of us -- the patient and myself -- inhabit the identical reality, do we not? No, we don't. This is another area where multiculturalism crashes against the rocks of reality. As I have said before, mental illness is a private culture, whereas culture is more or less a public mental illness (I oppose culture, which is particular, to civilization, which is universal but can take various forms). Human beings are not the same, because although biology takes each of us to the shore of humanness, it is only language that allows us to stand firmly on dry ground, continue the journey upward and inward, and literally "colonize" more of consciousness.
Consider the patient described above. Like all human beings, he is "conscious" and he possesses "speech." But how much consciousness has he actually conquered with speech? I would suggest that, just like a primitive people, he inhabits a tiny island that he confuses with the whole of reality -- at least until he encounters the wider world. Then he will either remain stupid -- with the assistance of liberals who tell him that his little world is as good as any other -- or he will try to get off the island.
Or sometimes the plantation. This is the vast difference between, say, a Thomas Sowell and a Jesse Jackson. Jackson is a bitter slave living on a tiny plantation, whereas Sowell has long since emancipated himself and hightailed it for the north (the vertical, as it were). Yes, both are "men," but this designation often conceals as much as it reveals. As Aristotle said, "the soul is all that it knows," which is another way of saying that a man is all the consciousness he has colonized.
When it comes to human beings, there are island men, continental men, worldly men, cosmic men, and fully bi-cosmic men, or Raccoons. Naturally, the island man has no way of knowing when he is dealing with one of the others, but the cosmic or bi-cosmic man knows in an instant the boundaries of the person with whom he is dealing.
The old coonerism that "words are not merely words" contradicts all linguistic orthodogmacy (a "coonerism" is something a Raccoon is born knowing -- it is part of his non-genetic "soul inheritance"). Our spacy-age linguistic elites maintain that "every child, save the severely brain-damaged and those with very rare genetic defects, learns his or her native language with perfect facility, adequate to his needs. He does so because the faculty of language is part of human nature, inscribed in man’s physical being, as it were, and almost independent of environment."
The expert linguisitors further proclaim that language "is an inherent biological characteristic of mankind rather than a merely cultural artifact. Moreover, language itself is always rule-governed; and the rules that govern it are universally the same, when stripped of certain minor incidentals and contingencies that superficially appear important but in reality are not."
It is this kind of thinking that inevitably leads to the idea that ebonics is as good as the language of Shakespeare. Why not? Who are we to judge? It's just hardware. Like opinions and a**holes, everybody's got one. It's standard issue.
Again, consider how educated one must be to adhere to such nonsense. Only someone very stupid or very educated could possibly believe such a thing. And yet, they do believe it:
"It follows that no language or dialect is superior to any other and that modes of verbal communication cannot be ranked according to complexity, expressiveness, or any other virtue. Thus, attempts to foist alleged grammatical 'correctness' on native speakers of an 'incorrect' dialect are nothing but the unacknowledged and oppressive exercise of social control -- the means by which the elites deprive whole social classes and peoples of self-esteem and keep them in permanent subordination. If they are convinced that they can’t speak their own language properly, how can they possibly feel other than unworthy, humiliated, and disenfranchised? Hence the refusal to teach formal grammar is both in accord with a correct understanding of the nature of language and is politically generous, inasmuch as it confers equal status on all forms of speech and therefore upon all speakers."
Here is a fine example of how leftists, as always, believe they are the magnanimous "liberators" when they are actually the oppressors of mankind. They have the bizarre notion they are somehow "anti-imperialist" or "anti-colonialist," when they are specifically colonizing these poor souls with their parasitic postmodern ideology. By forcing people to live on their little cultural and linguistic islands, they aren't "liberating" anyone. Rather, they are enslaving them. Intellectually and spiritually, a Cornell West or a Harry Belafonte is an abject slave. Likewise, the purpose of an organization such as CAIR is to enslave Muslims, just as the purpose of the NAACP is to enslave blacks, largely through the use of an oppressive and narrow language that sharply limits, defines, and contains reality.
Look at them, a prisoner of the gutter,
Condemned by every syllable they utter.
By law they should be taken out and shot,
For the cold-blooded murder of the minds they rot. --My Unfair Gray Lady
In his essay, Dalrymple proceeds to pick apart one of the world's leading linguists -- and certainly the bestsmelling one -- the ironically named Steven "Stinker" Pinker. Again, he is able to do this because the intellect can know truth directly. It does not require a study or the consensus of expert linguists to do this. I do not believe Dalrymple is a religious man -- after all, he is European. Nevertheless, he is obviously a "Raccoon without portfolio," for he sees directly into the truth of complex subjects in such a way that he is able to bypass the "experts."
Science vs. religion. I ask you: what is more nutty, the statement, "In the Beginning was the Word," or “Language is qualitatively the same in every individual," or "men are as naturally equal in their ability to express themselves as in their ability to stand on two legs," or “once you begin to look at language as a biological adaptation to communicate information, it is no longer as tempting to see language as an insidious shaper of thought.” What is the kookier notion, the idea that man is made of truth because the primordial word is naturally capable of becoming flesh, or the statement that “When it comes to linguistic form, Plato walks with the Macedonian swineherd, Confucius with the head-hunting savage of Assam”?
Experts say that the idea of one form of language being superior to another is "a pernicious illusion.... Trifling differences between the dialect of the mainstream and the dialect of other groups... are dignified as badges of ‘proper grammar.’” To believe otherwise makes you a contemptible linguistic imperialist, no doubt a racist to boot. In fact, standard English is simply "one of those languages that 'is a dialect with an army and a navy.'” In other words -- in keeping with the abiding leftist faith that all relations may ultimately be reduced to blind power -- the grammatically correct schoolmarms to whom Pinker objects "are in fact but the linguistic arm of a colonial power -- the middle class -- oppressing what would otherwise be a much freer and happier populace."
Oh, expert texpert stinking Pinkers, don't you think the joker winks at you? Ho ho ho, he, he he, ha, ha, ha? See how we grin like Coons in a den, see how we smile!