I am trying to learn Hindi.The alphabets looks strange, but I am not aware how english and tamil alphabets made it to my head. Language makes it possible to realize the world outside ,inside our head.Language is just a tool, it is an abstraction, through which we perceive something else. Language is a means but not the end. When you say a word like “River” within your mind, you get a sensation of what it is. Without that sensation, the word “river” doesn’t have any place in this world. That sensation is what I perceive as meaning. I tried this exercise of calling out words and observing what I perceive. Perception seems even more complicated and its not entirely dependent on the language. Context and subject plays a huge role in how we perceive the language.
Language works mostly well when we describe things that exists out there for real in the world physically. You and me will agree on what you mean by a “man” and “woman”. We can get to the actual representation of the word without hindrance. But the moment you say a “He is a “good” man”, the efficiency of language drops downhill. Words like good/bad/anger/nuisance does have their existence only in the mind. The sensations that follow abstract words like these depends on the context and subject.
Though limited, I love the power of languages – especially the metaphors and the way they use seemingly unrelated things to enhance each other. “Finding that book was like sporting a oasis in a desert”! – an Indescribable feeling has been conveyed by comparison. Will we able to describe that in a compact word say- “relief, joy,hope” are few which strikes my mind now, but nothing gives the descriptive sensation that metaphor brings.
I am thinking in these lines because in my recent academic commitments, I am studying techniques to retrieve images that match ones verbal description. I don’t know which image should I retrieve when a user types “Beautiful natural scenery” ! So I keep examining the way I use language to perceive with an hope to understand and reproduce it for those machines to help us .
Words like Life,Love and purpose has always puzzled me and many of us. What is the purpose of this blog post? What is the purpose of my stay here and the big question “What is the purpose/meaning of life. Meaning- what does it mean?! So mean! Love in my circle and in most is attached to that man-woman bonding which makes them yearn to be together. People also at times claim “true” love! I pondered over the truth, and when I digged a bit, its like digging a grave, you get only remains, but not what was present when it existed. It wasnt pleasant and me and my friend decided that there is no Boolean (True or False) love, its just Love.
Mystics say that Love and other abstract words like GOD belongs to that class which cannot be described but felt. Why not? When we have tried to pack numerous other emotions in to words, why not those?Indeed they did, thats why we have an word for it, but the package was leaky that it has left out a lot of what it could possibly mean. Hence we have diverse representations for the very same word.
As far as love, I felt a wholesome meaning which could describe any LOVE while reading this story http://www.sramakrishnan.com/?p=3437. Briefly – its a tale about a married woman who finds hope in Gandhian principles which serves as an oasis in her ‘desert’ like domesticated life. She LOVES Gandhi. Its not that yearning a woman has for a man with whom she wishes to procreate. That kind of yearning is just a subset, an additional attribute to love, not love itself. She sees hope,strength and a reason to live through Gandhi. I am attempting to define LOVE but I know I will fail miserably at it since I cant list out every possible sensation it evokes in you.
I don’t agree with the maxim that one has to undergo a feeling to understand what it is. For that to be true, I will have die to learn what Death means. There is no way that I can understand Death by that means. You can say birth and death has a physical connection to it, but I claim that I claim we have made it abstract by our perceptions. Dont we have before life and after life theories?
Life – what does it mean? Living – how do I do it? We do have many choices as answers/meaning for those questions. There are no right and wrong answers. Just groups of people who have similar and dissimilar choices. Perception is limited and its indeed a choice, you can assign more sensation to the words you know already and feel that the world is too big to be contained in words.
Love – lets not restrict the direction of this word to that man-woman love, for it has far more magnitude and has in it the power to compress the meaning of life!