Saturday, October 25, 2014

Clear Speech

I feel like something gets stuck as it goes down my throat. Something I haven’t looked at for awhile. That’s what I want to write about.

It may be one of those things that we don’t like to talk about.

The other day the rabbi asked if anyone was a Republican, and I raised my hand. He asked me to explain. I said I raised my hand because I didn’t want anyone to feel bad about raising their hand. He then said, but you aren’t a Republican, are you? And I answered, “I didn’t say that.”

Most of the people I know are not Republicans. I feel I’m closest to the Libertarians. That may be a foolish way to vote, because it is, in most circumstances, throwing out one’s vote. In any case, that is not what I wanted to write about.

I raised my hand a few times and the rabbi didn’t call on me. My mind raced for an explanation. I thought, “Does he not see me, or does he think my comments are dumb? Should I keep raising my hand, or should I take his ignoring me as a loving act to prevent me from embarrassing myself?”

We were talking about the building of the tower of Babil (Genesis 11:1), and how G_d wasn’t impressed in the least. Nor was G_d impressed that everyone had the same language. So he says (perhaps to the angels), “let us go down there and confuse their speech so that on one understands what the other is saying.”

One would think that G_d would have been glad to see the people so unified. Is he creating individuals here? Is he threatened not only by their ability to communicate (possibly about Him) but by their ability to build a tower “that reaches the sky.”

Was there a connection with God picking Moses as his spokesperson and Moses not being able to speak clearly. Was clear speech actually a product of the discursive mind, and a source for our delusions. The primary delusion from clear speech is that we are understanding one another.

None of these thoughts about speech were going to be my comment, though I wish they would have been. I was going to comment on the tower, and how, reaching the sky, was an icon that the people would worship instead of G_d. Someone did mention that idea.

The idea of discarding our ability to communicate clearly is now more interesting to me than seeing the tower as an icon. In the same way that some dictators see literacy as a threat, so G_d might see clear speech as a threat. If another person can truly “get” us, do we really need G_d?

Now I reread my first line and discover that “clear speech” might have been on my mind, where I thought it was “not being called on” that was bothering me. I was not able to speak when I was young. Here again I was not able to speak. And now G_d doesn’t want us to be able to speak. And the greatest gift of my life was not being able to speak. It made me treasure learning to express myself and communicate.


Anonymous said...

567Perhaps it has something to do with the inherent falsity of language. We think we are clearly communicating, but we are trading counters inside a socially constructed reality. sw

Anonymous said...

Also, as far as you being libertarian or Republican, or whatever, I have always appreciated that you seemed to make your mind up on each issue without being dominated by a dogma. sw