Remembering Your Allforabit and Mythsemantics
First of all, language presupposes a special kind of world in which one thing can stand for another. The word "symbol" means to throw together or across, and this is indeed the function of language, except that language bridges two realities that are already language. Truly, in the beginning was and is the Word.
For example, take a simple description of a material object. As we have already discussed, appearance itself is a kind of language, specifically, the language of being. We have a word for being, that is, being; but being has an infinite and inexhaustible number of words for itself. Being is always hidden beneath or behind the appearance, and yet, never stops revealing itself. Thus, we have to visualize a kind of continuous flow, as from a mountain spring, or from Dupree's magic keg.
Now, the same principle applies to life, mind, and spirit. We can talk about each of these, but we must not confuse our language with theirs. For example, let's take DNA. Is DNA really the "language of life?" Or is, let us say, "joy" or "ananda" or "bliss" the language of life? We'll get back to that question later.
But even to say that DNA is the language of life is to say that life has a language -- that it speaks. As HvB puts it, "The leaf, the flower, and the fruit are, of course, beautiful and pleasing even as appearances, but they demand to be interpreted as the revelations of the life principle at work in them, which does not appear as such."
Obviously, no single expression could ever exhaust or contain the "life principle," for, like being itself, it is a constant flow of living words from depth to surface. This flow is the life principle. Thus, "only when we understand the depth along with the surface" does life itself "take on a decipherable meaning." To only skim along the surface of life is to miss the mark entirely.
The problem is only compounded when this principle is applied to the level of mind, which provides us with an intimate, first hand experience of the flowing structure of reality as such. As a matter of fact -- you will forgive my gnostalgia -- I discussed this at length in my doctoral dissertation, which was published in two lengthy articles back in the early '90s. You could summarize my views with a quotation from one of the twentieth century's great physicists, Werner Heisenberg, which appears at the beginning of the dissertation:
The same organizing forces that have created nature in all its forms, are responsible for the structure of our soul, and likewise our capacity to think.
I don't see how one could argue with that statement and still call oneself a scientist. Nevertheless, it is the kind of statement that is utterly beyond the scientistic Queegs and queeglings of the world, who only communicate surface to surface, like ants bumping their heads together and exchanging their precious bodily fluids.
I'm afraid that this post is beginning to get out of hand. The subject is so vast that it's starting to escape the ability of a mere post to contain it. You could say that it's slipping the surly bonds of human language. I'll see what I can do about that. I'll try not to harm reality too much in reining it in.
Okay. Let's get back to Balthasar. He writes that "the sounds of a word do not betray the essence of the speaker in the same way that, for example, his tone of voice or the laughter accompanying his speech expresses something of his frame of mind." Speech "spans the arc between inside and outside," but nevertheless "forbids any direct intuition [I would say perception] of the essence that speaks itself."
This is a key insight, for not only does language span the distance between word and thing, but even more mysteriously, between inside and outside.
I believe we can see how this applies to each level of reality: matter, life, mind, and spirit. To talk as if there is only an outside is to miss the ultimate significance of language altogether.
Here again, this would be our principle beef with the Queegs of the world, who use the gift of language to deny and reject the gift. It is what makes them so ungrateful, on the one hand, but also so boring and repetitive, since they use language in such a way as to sever it from its dynamic ground and source. It's a self-enclosed hell to which they are welcome. I understand Queeg played on a number of records in the past. But now he is a broken record, and records weren't made to be broken.
Here is the other quotation that accompanied the one by Heisenberg. It's from Finnegans Wake: When a part so ptee does duty for the holos, we soon grow to use of an allforabit.
Now, what does that mean, and why did I think that it was so important that it should appear at the beginning of my dissertation? Om my word! I can think of about a dozen reasons off the tip of my geistberg. For a human being is the petit part who is able to know the holy-whole through the magic allforabit of language.
Indeed, man himself is the allforabit, that is, the microcosm who stretches vertically from shore to cosmic shore and seen to shining seer. We stand on one shore and reach to the other, so you could even say that man is the word of the cosmos. Except we are not the last word, because, try as we might, we cannot span the distance. For that we require the first word, which is none other than Alpha. And Alpha is just the shadow of Omega, cast back in time. Indeed, this is how God can telos all about himsoph down and out here.
So, if you're still following me, Jesus is the ultimate allforabit, is he not? Indeed, the human bit could not contain his overflowing All, which is why the latter could even vanquish death, similar to how life makes easy work of the laws governing matter. For Spirit is to mind as mind is to life as life is to matter. Note that the first and last Word is at the top, not the bottom. And the last word is not "nothing" but "everything."
But the Word is always in service to its Mutterer and Father. "Thus, the word is able to reveal much more by effacing itself in service than by emphasizing itself in dominion" (HvB). Therefore, it is expedient that I go away now. But don't worry. I'll leave you with my allforabit.