Like everyone else’s world mine is full of words. Even when I’m not reading books, listening to audiobooks, reading articles online, listening to debates on Youtube or talking with students, colleagues and friends I am always thinking in words.
I am constantly revising my view of the world based partly on my own thinking but mainly on the thoughts of others. Those others include John Derbyshire, Ed West, Patrick West, Pat Buchanan, Mark Steyn, Roger Scruton, F. Roger Devlin, Michael H. Hart, Michael Levin, Benjamin Schwartz, Douglas Murray, Toby Young, Peter Hitchens, Melanie Phillips, Sam Harris, Rod Liddle, Pat Condell, Pat Buchanan, Steve Sailer, Peter Brimelow, James Thompson, James Delingpole, Jim Goad, Gavin McInnes, Theodore Dalrymple, Daniel Greenfield, Milton Friedman, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Jared Taylor, J.P. Rushton and Stefan Molyneux. These people’s thoughts and ideas go round and round in my head.
Yet sometimes I get a bit sick of it all. Then I start to wonder just how accurately words describe the real material world and how closely other our ideas map onto real events. At times words almost seem to obscure rather than illuminate. Then I try to imagine how the world would look without language to get a handle on it.
In this spirit I sometimes turn off the commentary when I’m watching a football match so I’m not influenced by what I hear. Later I can see or read whether my view of the game coincides with that of the pundits. Football is one of the few subjects I know well enough to make up my own mind what constitutes good and bad play.
I think consciousness without language must be possible since the deaf think. Also there must have been a time prior to the invention of language when we were conscious of something. So I sometimes lie on my bed and try to stop the words and ideas from rising up into consciousness and see what comes. Or I try to look at things without thinking.
I would like to claim that at such times a veil falls from my eyes and I see the world in all its glorious radiance, as if for the first time. The stone becomes stonier, a cup cuppier and both appear more what they really are in themselves. Yet I can’t. All I see is the same stone and cup as before and nothing becomes ‘more itself’. There is no feeling akin to Aldous Huxley’s experience in The Doors of Perception, nor Virginia Woolf’s ‘Moments of Being’. It’s just the same as before. Shame.