Following up on our latest article, I would like to ponder further on the idea of thinking about linguists as if they were poets, storytellers or even artificers of some sort, given the intricate nature of their craft.
The so called wordsmith, as we’ve mentioned before, is someone so skilled in the art of manipulating language that they could almost reshape the fabric of reality itself. Something along the lines of the mythical caste once known as the silver-tongues: Mystical narrators who could allegedly draw power from their words to affect time and space.
If we go back through time we can easily spot a few mythical or historical figures who could easily fit the role of these “supernatural speakers”. Think of Socrates, Homer, Diogenes, or even the fabled Daedalus.
For Socrates, text was nothing but deceased words on a parchment. Nothing but an empty vessel which has already lost its primal spark.
On the other hand, Daedalus, according to some poets of old, spoke of his curious inventions out loud before bringing them into existence. No sketches or blueprints involved. He just conjured them out of pure rhetoric and mindfulness, borrowing power from his own words.
To think language could lend us such power is mind-blowing to say the least.
Picking up once again on Galileo’s thoughts about the mystery of language and its role in the universe, without which we would “wander in that dark labyrinth” stumbling aimlessly without much sense of purpose or direction, the idea of the maze fits our purpose like a glove.
Daedalus, it seems, in his role of the linguist-artificer, a true wordsmith, could solve the enigma of the inescapable metaphor of miscommunication that is his own labyrinth. Once he is able to flee the maze by conjuring a very poetic set of wings for him and his young son Icarus, he immediately suffers the curse of his own blessing by losing his son as he tragically falls into the sea beneath them, just as he anticipated it would happen.
For these silver-tongued paladins, alchemists even, it is their own voice that seems to empower the magic behind their powerful thoughts. What every modern aspiring writer struggles to find these days in order to define themselves and their craft: To find their own voice. A quest that has to do with discovering our very essence, who we are, and how we chose to approach the boisterous havoc that is the world we inhabit.
It’s the very reason why Plato wrote dialogs to record his teacher’s ideas, trying to emulate a living conversation to the best of his abilities in an attempt to preserve its sacred spark.
Don’t get me wrong. Written word has brought us a long way as far as civilization goes, but it has also taken us as farther away from what’s most essential: That living spark these artificers protect so boldly. A unique light that shines within each of us with our own personal glow.
We need to go back to basics. Back to Babel. To babble in tongues, ‘til we reach the pure essence of it all, and we are ready, once more, to tumble down the ivory towers that have isolated us for so long. To bring the power back to the words. To bring the power back to the people.
We just need to remind ourselves this time, not to fly to close to the sun…