Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The History of Words

Before words, each person's thoughts could develop freely without the intervention of strangers’. If someone liked an other, a warm gesture would blossom. Fear would make them fight or flee. Or both. The idea of making love with words or of using them to express differences was something people could not even conceive.
Before words we were real individuals. People’s thoughts could be influenced by other people’s actions, but only as long as they were co-present. As soon as they went apart they were free from each other's influence. People could teach other people to do things but only by doing them. One could never ‘teach’ a task if one was unable to perform it.

Then some genius invented words. Molotov, his name, was the first word he created. It was a small ingenious device, bottle-shaped, that could encapsulate his idea of himself and explode inside other people’s thoughts. Excited with the first trials of the new invention, he started building new similar devices.
One day his assembly line produced the word word. He stopped. He pronounced the word in all tones and pitches. He drew it in different sizes and colours. And started thinking in the shape of the words he created. Every thought that didn’t fit in those devices was condemned to inexist.
His thinking, ever so knowledgeable about the ins and outs of word production since the construction of the word word, became attached to the productivity of his word factory. Everything he saw had to have a word.
He named things and they become distinguishable.
He made a word for other; then a name for each other.
When everyone else had names, he had to rename himself.
So he created the word God.

Naming changed the world and created new things. People started to ask: was there a world before words? So God mixed the herbs with the mushrooms, made room in the floor for the fire and put the kettle on. He had to invent words for things he had never seen or experienced.
He started to give names to what ceased to exist before words were invented. As he was doing it, he noticed that things came after the names, so words could create reality. He also notice that connections between words were being formed and that those connections changed the shape of words, thus changing even more the thoughts that they contained and the things they created.
He decided to get some help. Whatever he thought, as long as it could fill one of those Molotov cocktails, other people would think. Thinking machine working… scribe, slave, power. Thus he trained a team of word producers and started to build the story of all things and happenings hitherto.

God built a big loom in order to weave new connections between words. As he got more and more into textual production, he delegated much of the word production. He even gave his former name, Molotov to one of his slave scribes. One day, Molotov came by the loom where God was immersed. He was holding a word involved in a cloth between his hands. He stretched his arms inviting God to unveil it. They exchanged intrigued gazes before God slowly and nervously unclothe the package like he was undressing a virgin. Despite all care, a question mark fell on the floor. Then the vest joined it and the word Why was in God’s hands. It came from the same lot as Time, Molotov said, but God’s eyes didn’t seem to listen. The rest is history.

History is not a line. Nor a tree. It grows like ginger. Just like words. Even if you cut all the connections with the author, it continues to breed. History’s not a story; it’s a restless rhizome.
Before mobile phones there were pagers. Pagers were alright; as long as you were on the other end, where you could say whatever you wanted and feel like you were colonizing without the risk of being assimilated. However, just like any emperor might tell you, to maintain an empire it is essential to get some feed-back from your colonies. The catch is to make sure it is the right feed-back.
The genius who invented the text phones forgot to desinvent the centrifugal drive of communication.
Before electronic mails there were wired telegrams and before them there were posted letters and before letters there were graffiti. Walls like storytellers sitting at the crossroads with an anchor hearing and telling errant stories.
Some travellers decided to write books instead of telling stories or leaving them engraved on walls on the way. They wrote the story that the word inventor had told them and managed to colonize thoughts at long space-time distances.
The rest is history.

Love Thy Neighbour II - Amor ao Próximo

«Dá licenss. A voz empurrava o espaço dentro, criava assunto.
O que se passa, ó vizinho?, perguntou o do nono.
Se passa o problema de morar. Quando se mora, tudo fica perto. Um prédio é uma casa só, inteira de única. Todos no prédio, são noivos do mesmo espaço. Matrimoniados pelo mesmo habitar. Acredite, a vizinhança é um casamento. Veja lá: os quartos adormecem encostados uns aos outros. Os filhos dos vizinhos gritamos-lhes ralhando com os nossos. Nos cheiros provamos a comida alheia antes de ela ser servida lá, na respectiva casa. Somos os dois lados da parede, um e outro, não acha?
E porquê esta toda introdução, meu amigo?
É que é por causa disso, por causa dessa introdução, que eu estou aqui, vizinho.
Então veio a minha casa por causa de uma introdução?
Calma, eu explico: esse seu pilão, no nono andar, barulha até lá no chão. É um barulho: até doenta-nos os ouvidos. Tunc, tunc, tunc… É de mais, parece que estão a pilar a cabeça da gente. A nossa paciência, vizinho, está nos últimos grãos. Desculpa-me, mas eu tenho que lhe fazer esta autocrítica.
O homem do nono andar aceitou a queixa, razão dos incómodos sonoros. E explicou, apontando a menina: a pilosa é a minha sobrinha. Mas tem que ser, desculpe. A farinha toda moemos aqui em casa. Não pilamos por gosto...."

MIa Couto, O Pilão do Nono Andar

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The History of Words

Before words, each person's thoughts could develop freely without the intervention of strangers’. If someone liked an other, a warm gest...