A playful response to the Daily Prompt: Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?
- Experience: Government, bureaucracy and institutions tend to rely on dead, abstract systems. The artist Allan Kaprow referred to museums as mausoleums because they are the places where things and ideas are frozen and ossify. So if language was boiled down to seven words then my first would have to be experience. Against the universal and ‘rational’, the word ‘experience’ defends the subjective, open and transient nature of reality. People and perception come first!
- Creativity: This word is overused and can be left wanting. If language only contained 7 words then it would be necessary to carefully define it. ‘Creativity’ is not something that artists do and no one else does. It isn’t necessarily career specific and does not rely on ‘special’ abilities. Henri Bergson argued that just being alive was a creative act because being alive involves displacement and change – to live is to appropriate, re-use things and form new links and combinations. ‘Creativity’ is not just to be applied democratically, but within the world of seven words is the basis of democracy. Everyone is valued and being creative is an inevitable part of experience. Note: ‘Creativity’ does not necessarily result in the production of commodities, but is independent of all such capitalist values.
- Fullocking: In order to describe the way that we as people try to manage expectations and ideals, against a material world, I discussed this word in a recent post. The word is borrowed from the game of marbles and relates to player’s contriving better positions for themselves, within or against the rules. If experience and creativity are highly prized, then fullocking relates to critical considerations of how those first two words function, how they are worked out in time.
- Metaphor: If language only contained 7 words then it would be more important than ever that people recognise metaphor – the fact that language can and does refer to things outside itself. Our thoughts and ideas, our self-perceptions, are constructed by language. Limiting the number of words in a language may limit the number of ways people can define themselves and experience. So, metaphor would be the tool by which the people in this imaginary scenario could keep possibilities alive and open. Ironically I include this word because, counter to Khalil Gibran’s claim, language with seven words would be incrediably complex, with people increasingly using irony, allusion and different patterns of intonation.
- Apeshit: I have always found this word to be very funny. It cuts through our civilized pretensions and redirects us to some kind of primitive state. I make a case for it being one of the greatest words in the English language here.
- Mystery: In a world with only seven words it may be necessary to point to the unknown. I consider myself to be a critical thinker with a strong belief in Scientific Method. However, without being spiritual about it, I don’t think many aspects of experience can be explained, and when it is explained it doesn’t necessarily help you to know how to live your life. Why? Because words are structured forms and life is creative experience.
- Yes: Without the word ‘no’ it might be hard to preserve the meaning of the word ‘yes’, but I’m sure people would figure out a way. And what a positive world it may be if people only said yes and then offered an alternative to ‘no’ in certain contexts. So if someone, somehow, conveys the question, “do you like my hair?” You could say “yes” or “mystery” or “apeshit” in response.