Life. Death. And the paradox of language.
Language is a paradox. It is the window into human nature and a tool we use to see the world; but despite language’s accessibility, I think experiences brought on by it can also be very limited. Think of language as a window in a confined and dark room. Because of this opening we are able to have knowledge of and have contact (although indirectly) with the world. But the opening of the window is limited and tiny in comparison to the space of the entire room. This window can only highlight a small portion of the world, while the rest of it is still within the confines of the walls of the room and the darkness it brings. In other words, we can see into the world using language, but such a view is always limited and distorted. Since it is language’s nature to compartmentalize the world, it can never begin to describe the world in its full continuum.
I think language tends to divide our thinking into binary terms. We tend to think and conceptualize in a bio-centric matter because language is often either “this” or “that”. In other words, there is always a word for what “is”, and its opposite, what it’s “not”; but the words that used to describe the states and conditions in between are usually unknown or non-existent. Think of the binary concept of “life” and “death”. Language pushes one of these terms all the way over “there”, while the other term all the way over “here”. But part of the problem with this notion of conception is that “life” and “death” are really two sides of the same coin that exist and embody each other in a dialectic fashion to create and give rise to an experiential phenomenon that is neither life nor death. I was hesitant to call this phenomenon “life”, but then after conceptualizing about it pre-linguistically, “life” isn’t really “life” at all without “death”. “Life” can never exist in isolation without “death”, so whenever we talk about “life”, we tend to omit what “death” does to this “life” and how “death” is already embodied in life because in a uncanny way, we are alive precisely because WE ARE ALSO ALREADY DEAD! Another way to put this is to say that language divides what isn’t separable. It’s only in language and in the imagination that there is this one thing called “death”, and another called “life”.
Think about it. Life really is the huge and massive on-going accumulation of death. Everything that had already happened is already dead. Imagine a cone with a sharp pointy edge. The tiny point at the end of this cone is what constitutes life, and EVERYTHING ELSE that makes up the cone, leading up to the sharp pointy edge are all death. In other words, most of everything that is, is already dead, and that the living is this tiny little pinnacle on top of a mass pile of death. Everything that has existed on this planet, most of it is already dead. The earth and the universe have been around for billions of years. It’s hard to conceive how much death is involved in what we called “life”. The 2 year old Frank is already dead, and so is the Frank that existed 5 seconds ago. The only part of me that is alive is the tiny point that I called my “presence”. But it is precisely these dead moments that give birth to this “life” thing that I am experiencing NOW, and THIS moment. But this current moment will soon dissolve and be “killed off”, adding to the on-going accumulation of death that will ultimately give birth to my “next” moment of life, as death endlessly and perpetually generates life out of its very own fabric. This on-going process of dying and birthing is usually described in the English language as merely, “life”. But by confining to the limits of words and symbols, we are omitting a great deal of our experiences and conditions.
Another example is the binary conception of sexes. We tend to divide the human race into two distinct categories – male and female. But if we no longer see language as the representation of some underlying human form, but as creation and exploration of new styles of perception and becoming, then we can argue that there isn’t really just ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. That these sexes are represented as the end or goal of life, such that we act in order to fulfill our humanity, but that we are actually both neither ‘man’ and/or ‘woman’. The way I see it, human beings are made up of thousands of tiny little sexes. Each of these little sexes intense germinal influxes that pass through and across our bodies. It is through the powerful organizing and interactions of becoming between these tiny little sexes that gives rise to an open and autonomous being. But language and concepts limit the possibilities of such on-going opening of flows these little sexes originate and take away the potentiality that they could have manifested in the world. Therefore, we are left with the binary conception of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, and often times fail to acknowledge that there is a ‘man’ in every ‘woman’, and a ‘woman’ in every ‘man’, and that within each of our man-woman bodies are constitutions and formations of thousands of tiny little sexes that long to return to their original quiescent state, prior to the disruption of language and concepts.
Sexuality is no different. We tend to think of sexuality as a very “black and white” matter. You are either “gay”, or “straight”, or you are “bisexual”, but I don’t think our experiences and sexual orientation are so clear cut and divisible because our desires and needs are not to be quantified and categorized so clearly. Sexuality is always in constant state of flux, and we are all born in the grey area within a huge continuum of contradictory, complimentary, expanding and contracting states, situated within a massive fabric of sexuality in its different forms, shapes, sizes and conditions. Simply put, sexuality isn’t so clear-cut, rather that it is a continuum concept – that is, one that admits of degree.