Babel of Tongues: The Need for a New Language of Thought

Reading several critical works brings me back to a notion I’ve had for some time: all the past narratives (Freud, Marx, Philosophy, Science, Economics, etc.) no longer capture the state of affairs in our time… the stories they tell, and we tell each other: the metaphors they use, the whole complex system of relations they use to capture what we are experiencing in our day to day lives, and even the global shift of relations across the world itself, are useless to most people. They no longer speak to us, give us the meaning or context within which we can relate to ourselves or others. So we wander from abstraction to abstraction, unable to relate to one another because each of us is an assemblage of competing systems of thought that no longer relate across systems. Therefore we’re in that crash space the Scott Bakker is always describing… unable to speak to each other because each of us is encircled by our own history of reading, thinking, systems… and none of them can bridge the gap of communication. There is no universal thought-form to relate to, rather we all live piecemeal in separate cubicles of part-cultural fragments, fractured thought-forms that seem to bind us to unmeaning rather than meaning.

It’s as if we’d entered the babel of tongues again, each defending a part of a lost narrative, caught with a part truth, arguing a point that no longer captures what it is we truly want to say or do. We attack others for not understanding, for shifting the dialogue to psychology, politics, ecology, religion, philosophy, lalalala… endless talk that skirts around the real inability for us to actually come together and listen to each other without automatically shutting down because the Other does not speak in our thought-forms, speak our system, with our metaphors, metonyms, hyperboles, tropes…. We peg and label people who speak differently than ourselves, pin them with some judgement so that we don’t really have to hear them or understand them, but rather so we can continue to believe our own bullshit rather than really open ourselves to change and difference.

We’d rather live in the illusion of freedom than actual freedom. To be open to an Other is the most difficult thing in the world. To actually listen to another and try not to reduce their thoughts to our own meagre idiocy is even more difficult (myself included). We reduce people and define them by who they are reading, channel them into categories of cliché so that we can pin the donkey tail, grasp them and shore up our own thought against theirs.

Somehow we’ve got to begin again. Somehow we have to invent a new thought, a new way of thinking, one that is not derivative, not burdened with so much failure….