Thursday, July 15, 2010

Language is the Key to Thought

I've never considered myself a "car guy," but have nevertheless undertaken a project to restore a '65 MGB. Knowing nothing about cars except what's taught in Driver's Ed, I lacked any knowledge of the basic parts and the names of those parts. Everything I've learned has come from reading, looking at diagrams, and tinkering with the car itself.

I admit, I didn't realize that I was learning much at all. However, this past weekend, my car (the one I drive regularly) had some sort of issue which prevented it from starting. Now, I wish I could say that I miraculously figured it out on my own. This was not the case. I consulted a couple of people who I knew to be bona fide "car guys" to help me troubleshoot.

The point is how clear my thinking was in regard to the troubleshooting process. Where I would previously have been at a loss to describe the problem in words other than "thingy" and "doo-hickey," I surprised myself at recalling the correct jargon. When I crawled under the car—surprise!—the components I saw were easily identifiable despite the two cars' similarity being no more than apples and oranges.

Describing this sensation to my wife, she replied, "You're learning the language. Language is the key to thought." In other words, once complex ideas can be given a name, they can more easily be related to other ideas.

Equipped with this new revelation, I re-examined what I believe to be the future of media. In such meditations, new understanding is reached even on the most well-tread paths of thought.

I came to the realization that language is not only limited to words, but also to visual forms. It was not because I knew the name for a transmission that I was able to identify the one in my car, but because I understood the form of a transmission. Having learned more extensively what each car part does within the system, my brain was able to capture the range of shapes to which a given part is limited—by physical laws, among other things.

Truth in Fiction works the same way. The story (a vehicle) can take the audience to any place the creator can imagine. The engine, however, is limited to a certain range of forms—according to natural law. The one distinction in this analogy is that while violation of forms in a car will prevent the car from reaching a destination at all, fictional stories can be so contrived as to reach a desired destination despite flaws.

Nevertheless, the quality of each journey is dependent upon the driving parts' fitting together in harmony. Moreover, the experience of a harmonious journey teaches our unconscious minds about a standard of excellence—against which other experiences will be compared.

If all one knows is a crummy existence, full of lies, deceit, and poverty, then all one can expect from life is the same. However, if one trapped in this view of the world, views truth-based media, his mind is given a higher standard to which it can aspire.

Therefore, books are certainly important for teaching of language and its uses. Yet, there is much untapped merit in visual media, which teaches the language of forms and the standards against which one can measure his daily experiences.

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