Language. Civilization. Silence. Re-death.

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Photo by Caio Queiroz from Pexels

Sixty years ago, renowned Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner published one of the most important books ever written about language. Verbal Behavior offered a comprehensive account of our unique capacity for symbolic communication, arguing forcefully over nearly 500 pages that it was learned rather than innate. The culmination of years of work, it was certainly influential – although not in the way Skinner anticipated. Rather than propelling his ideas into the limelight, it sparked a counter-revolution that catapulted a rival theory to worldwide acclaim.

Now, though, that rival theory is in decline and some of Skinner’s ideas are making an unexpected comeback. In recent years, psychologists have discovered that language really is learned, emerging from some general skills that are taught to children in the first few years of life. Surprisingly, these are not grand intellectual feats. Rather they can appear almost trivial – as simple as grasping the relationships between things, such as a large ball and a small one. (1)

We tend to see people who talk nicely as cultivated.

We admire logos. Seeing it as the culmination of our civilization.

But the cosmos was born in silence.

A quiet universe bred us into existence.

Calm trees covered us from the sun while we were growing.

The silent Earth carried us in her bosom.

And in that world…

We came into existence crying loud.

Being torn apart from our mother.

Being separated from the cosmos into being.

The only way to return home is not via speaking.

But by staying silent.

Just listen to the rustling of the leaves.

There is a cave underneath.

Go inside.

There is nothing there.

Only the things you bring with you…

Storytelling. An art long gone…

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“Knowing how to tell a clear and coherent story is an important skill for helping young children to develop strong reading skills, which, in turn, can help them to be successful across a number of different subjects in school,” said FPG advanced research scientist Nicole Gardner-Neblett. “Prior research suggests that historical and cultural factors foster strong storytelling skills among African American children, which has implications for their development as readers”.

Two years ago, Gardner-Neblett’s own research was the first to demonstrate the connection between African American preschoolers’ storytelling abilities and their early reading skills in kindergarten. That study found a link between storytelling and reading only for the African American children, from households across income levels, but not for any other demographic group. (1)

We have lost the art of storytelling.

Now we just believe the “Facts”.

It is the most “primitive” ones who will ultimately save our heritage as human beings. Soon enough, when the forest is empty, when the river stays silent, we will remember. That there is magic in the world. And that this magic only exists if you believe in it. The river does not make any sound. You are the one making the tree leaves thawing. By just sitting down and closing your eyes. Start analyzing them and you will see that the sound is gone. We are the vessel which receives the cosmos and gives it shapes and sounds.

Too much listening has made us deaf.

Too much seeing has made us blind.

We must into the forest again.

And find a clearing.

No, not in the forest.

In our heart.

Shhhh…

Mars exploration, culture preservation, priorities…

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Creating a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2025 will require serious training. To prepare its future astronauts for the task, the Netherlands-based private spaceflight project Mars One announced its plans to construct Earth-based outposts that replicate the cramped, isolated, crazy-making conditions of a Red Planet colony. (1)

Such projects makes one realize we are having all the wrong priorities. We spend so much time considering what to do with preserving life, that we have forgotten what life is. What is most important in such a mission is not the oxygen supply, but the systems or processes that will keep astronauts sane. The systems or processes that will preserve our culture even when we are going to another planet.

Culture preservation “systems”.
Psychology preservation “systems”.
Life preservation systems.

In descending order of importance…

After all, what is meaning to colonize a different world only as a lifeless set of flesh and bones? It is the culture of Parmenides and Aristotle that Mars needs, not our dead lifeless bodies.

Auto-riffles, killing with your hands, civilization…

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New high-tech riffles are aiming on themselves. (1)

We have become machines.
And now use other machines to kill.
Facelessly. Anonymously.

Without even having to pull the trigger, the was is just another videogame.
It sounds as progress but it is anything but. We say we value life more than our ancestors, but our way of killing says otherwise.

Only someone who despises life to the most profound level would choose to take another life in a way like that. As a method it seems “clean” but it the most dirty of them all.

Slain your enemies at war with your own hands. By yourself.
There is no honour in clicking buttons. Fill your hands with blood. Be civilized!

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