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 and discussions 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, Peter Frost, 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 people’s 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 if I were devoid of a language to get a handle on it.
In this spirit I sometimes turn off the commentary while watching a football match so that I’m not influenced by what I hear. Later I can see or read whether my view of the game coincided with that of the pundits. Football is one of the few subjects I know well enough to be able to make up my own mind on what constitutes good and bad play.
I think consciousness without language must be possible since not only are there deaf people (do they think in sign language?) but there must have been a time prior to us inventing 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 a veil then falls from my eyes and I see the world in all its glorious radiance and I see things afresh, as if for the first time. Then the stone becomes stony again and the cup cuppy. But alas I can’t. What I see is just a stone or a cup and nothing becomes ‘more itself’ than before. There is no feeling akin to Aldous Huxley’s experience in The Doors of Perception, nor Virginia Woolf’s occasional ‘Moments of Being’. Just more of the same.