All human verbal language is mental programming. When you type, write, or speak, you are causing your audience to make a copy of the message in their own minds. Some minds are more open than others to linguistic programming; others have more Byzantine spam blockers, anti-virus scanners, and password-protected firewalls. But those very security measures too are mere languages, just slightly more sophisticated. If you speak those languages and understand their contours, you can navigate or bypass them, write new programs, and rewrite existing programs.
Many of the programs we write in each other’s minds are useful and help us in our lives. Some programs are detrimental to the overall performance of the mind, or coax us to do things we otherwise might not. Others are benign or neutral. We are programming each other at all times. We all influence the direction of each other’s very will, the objects of our desire, and even the power switch on our volition. When we use language to transfer concepts, those concepts can turn to action, and thus we help to determine the fate of the human world and, by extension, the rest of the natural world.
And just what is a concept? How big is it? What color is it? The answer is concepts have no size, no color, in fact no physical attributes whatsoever. Even the printed word is merely a placeholder for concepts, which still we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands. From this nothingness, from this conceptual world that exists only in our minds and moves in our languages, we produce a somethingness in the physical world, the measurable world where agony and triumph and the dirt of daily doings occur. Thus language is not just programming, but alchemy. It is the dead mud from which the living, breathing, skin-slick swamp frog spontaneously generates. Language is medieval science proven correct.
Language is an inexhaustible resource. That is, you have access to an infinite amount of language and thus can influence the world infinitely by controlling the minds of others through language. One thing you can do with language is awaken the mind to itself, to show itself where it twists and turns, where its weaknesses lie, how it can be turned against itself. You can arm your audience with the self-knowledge necessary to protect itself, grow gracefully, and take such shape as can advance the spirit and the body towards a better living reality.
Is this frightening, the idea that we can control each other through language, or that we are being controlled through it all the time? Is it disconcerting to admit that language has such power and that we utilize it whether we want to or not? Not after you’ve admitted it to be true. If like X-Men‘s Wolverine you were born with a titanium skeleton and retractable knives in your hands, would you want to know it? Of course you would. And wouldn’t you want to use it to do good? Most of us would say yes.
So let’s set aside for the moment the idea of pure free will. We are all programmed zombies to some extent. Let’s try to be aware of it, and let’s try to learn as much as possible about language. Let’s see how free we can make our wills, by understanding and even celebrating the ways in which our will is not free at all, but subject to the predilections of others’ use of language. Read much. Write some. Think. Cultivate inner silence, so that we can hear the true nature of the words when they do arrive.
Language is power over others and self. I wish you good luck in your quest to master it.
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