December 29: Day Five

Go back to Day 4

Conflict within weakens the power to conquer danger without.
Hexagram 6, Conflict
I Ching, Richard Wilhelm’s Translation

‘Cause all the words are having no effect at all
It’s a funny thing, am I alone?
Dale Bozzio, Missing Persons

Language was born the child of loneliness and the anxiety that our inner experience of the outer world would persist in isolation. The threat posed by the inaccessibility of other people’s experience of the world was intolerable.

Meaning created by language, while consoling and useful, planted the seeds of dispute. Cain may have killed able with a club, the dispute started over meaning.

Language is the currency of value exchange among human beings, not money. When I experience “tree” and I share that, you’re sharing in the experience I had because you think you know what “tree” means.

The foregoing discussion of the four elements of the meaning of life, vocation, volition, knowledge, and faith assumes a relationship with others. However, I’ve realized that what Conrad wrote in the Heart of Darkness is true, “We live as we dream, alone.”

Yet, we live among and with others, and as much as I want to see inside of you and know what’s there, and you might need to know the same about me, we simply can’t; we’re stuck with words, signals sent from deep within to some beacon without.

As with the four elements, there is a dual nature to this isolation within community. As with vocation, we are connected inside to those outside with a kind of cable. The call that pulls me then necessarily pulls you, and yours pulls mine.

I can feel, fleetingly, Virgil’s heart in the Aeneid and driver’s rage in their horn when I run; or the tension of the whole network in a poem or a song.

Go to Day Six