Friday, January 20, 2006


If you compare two things you tell how they are alike. If you contrast two things you tell how they are different. If you compare and contrast two things you tell how they are alike and how they are different.

It is important to organize your thoughts and information before you do so.
I'm not talking about something abstract.
I'm not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about.
It's something very concrete. It's you and me talking.
Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences.
It might be true that there are six billion people in the world and counting.
Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference.
It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms.
Makes a difference to other people and it sets an example.
In short, I think the message here is...
that we should never simply write ourselves off...
and see ourselves as the victim of various forces.
It's always our decision who we are.
Dcision seems to come out of imperfection.
It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration.
And this is where I think language came from.
I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation...
and have some sort of connection with one another.
And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival.
Like, you know, "water." We came up with a sound for that.
Or, "Saber-toothed tiger right behind you." We came up with a sound for that.
But when it gets really interesting, I think,
is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate...
all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing.
What is, like, frustration? Or what is anger or love?
When I say "love,"
the sound comes out of my mouth...
and it hits the other person's ear,
travels through this Byzantine conduit in their brain,
you know, through their memories of love or lack of love,
and they register what I'm saying and say yes, they understand.
But how do I know they understand? Because words are inert.
They're just symbols. They're dead, you know?
And so much of our experience is intangible.
So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable.
And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another,
and we--
we feel that we have connected,
and we think that we're understood,
I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion.
And that feeling might be transient,

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