What are words for?

Joseph Campbell would tell you that words and language are sort of the thrift shop of communication–we pick them up third-hand from the original concept. First, our brain flashes its neurons and pulls an idea from the environment around us and the banks of memory and experience we store. Second, it sculpts the idea, trimming off rough and wild edges and shaping it into a more cohesive and orderly thought. The thought is then further manipulated and filtered, weighed for appropriateness (usually) and sometimes rejected. If it passes muster in this stage, it gets wrangled into whatever library of words our mind currently contains–limited and shaped by our vocabulary. These words, spoken or written, are so watered down from the original concept, it’s amazing we can make ourselves understood at all. And yet we do, and in such beautiful ways. Poetry and sonnets, stories and speeches. And the more we practice, the better we become at sharing what’s in our head. I’ve been practicing the ‘idea to thought’ part for years and years. This is my new space for the shared, written language portion of that process.

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