"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  (The Gospel According to John:  1.1)

In the Bible it is said that the Word (the language of God, or God itself) is the source of all power, as well as being the embodiment and manifestation of that power.  It has likewise been said that to know the true name of a thing is to gain access to the source of its power and, through this access, to gain control over it.  But what exactly is meant by such terms as "the Word" and the "true name" of a thing?  The use of a linguistic terminology here both asserts and denies the capacity of language to assist us in discovering an answer:  for language is, in fact, no more than a symbolic representation of a metaphorical content which the symbols of language themselves can only partly contain.

In the individual human, there exists a mass of vague, unfocused data floating through the mind just below the level of conscious awareness.  This mass of data remains largely unknown to us until such time as one particular aspect of it asserts a claim upon our attention.  We designate such claims according to a variety of defining terms, e.g. we call them "thoughts," "ideas," "feelings," "fantasies," etc.  By such definitions we begin the decision-making process by which we choose how to regard and deal with that which has made its claim.  Further control may be sought by isolating and naming assorted secondary thoughts, ideas, and/or feelings which have attached themselves to the primary one; also we may perform various analyses with regard to our claimant's possible genesis, its ongoing nature, and its potential conclusion.  By these means we seek to understand and thereby possess, control, and direct that which has bubbled to the surface of consciousness, to give it shape and definition according to our will.  The process which takes place in an individual human is therefore a matter of naming, when called upon to do so, various aspects of subconscious data gathered in response to our environment, as well as to ourselves as we interact with our environment.  This process is, beyond all else, a biological one, a matter of sensory data being registered, analyzed, and organized by the brain.  The process begins in infanthood, during which time our responses are constituted firstly of reactions to internal biological promptings (hunger, thirst, the attraction to pleasurable stimuli and retraction from unpleasurable stimuli, etc), and secondly by our growing awareness of how the external environment responds, or fails to respond, to the demands we place upon it.  Out of these two basic conditions we begin to construct our various theories of "self" and "other," modifying and reconstructing them as we continue to learn more about how the environment reacts to our biologically motivated demands.  As we grow and mature our theoretical constructs likewise grow and mature, coming over time to include our relationships with other people, to society at large, to the world of nature, etc; eventually theories may be constructed as to what constitutes the inmost nature of self (subjective reality) and other (objective reality) as we endeavor to bring their deeper mysteries into the realm of conscious understanding and call them by their true names.  Arguments are developed to bolster these theories; are compared and weighed against the arguments of others; are torn down and reconstructed again and again as one gains access to additional information and experience.  Such argumentations and the theories they support change, of course, not only over the course of a single individual's lifetime but also over the course of historical time, so that they are influenced and modified both by individual learning and by whatever historical preferences, or prejudices, happen to exist during the period in which an individual lives.  But the motive force underlying all these theoretical constructions is continually the same:  the desire to discover the "true name" of things.

Scientific inquiry is, at this moment of historical time at least, believed to be the most valid means we have for constructing theories about what both self and other consist of; it is the means by which we believe ourselves to have the best hope for gaining a truly objective picture of the reality comprised of self and other, and thus to discover its true nature.  Of course, since we have now discovered that our own consciousness plays a fundamental role with regard to the manner in which reality manifests, we must now acknowledge that reality cannot be conceived in objective terms alone; rather, it is an admixture of the objective and subjective fields.  As with the process described when an individual assigns names to those various aspects of the subjective realm, the sum total of reality must be described as a fundamentally physiological, or biological, response of being to its own beingness.  We can no longer pretend to "name" reality by behaving as if it has an objective existence alone.

If I look at myself in a mirror I do not, generally speaking, take much notice of the mirror itself; rather, what I'm interested in is my own reflection as displayed in the mirror.  That is, the mirror reflects whatever psychologically derived, "storied" configuration of myself that I've projected into it at a given moment in time.  Thus I may see myself as handsome or plain, happy or sad, intelligent or dull witted, etc, depending on my mood.  If I remove all psychologically derived projections, I hold the reflected image I see to be "objective."  This apparent objectivity is, however, simply another "story" that I have projected:  that is, it is but one more example of the many ways in which I might come to view myself in the mirror.  How then do I discover the true objective nature of the various objects comprising this relationship between self and mirror?  Science attempts to solve the problem by means of dissection, of breaking the objects under examination into smaller and smaller pieces:  the mirror becomes a piece of transparent glass and its backing material; the human being a series of organs, tissues, and cells; reflection is a matter of the transmission of light; the mind a transmission of impulses along nerve fibers.  Eventually both mirror and human become no more than molecules and atoms held together by an idea; and still the pieces are cut into yet tinier pieces, in the hopes of discovering their true objectivity – their "true names."  Yet no matter how minuscule the level at which we make our observation, we are still perceiving nothing more than yet another "storied" interpretation, consisting of an admixture of the subjective and the objective, the observer and the observed.  This leaves us with what at first appears to be a false conundrum, for it feels entirely natural to us to believe that there exists such a thing as a truly objective existence.  When I stand before the mirror, I understand by commonsense procedure that both the mirror and myself each have a separate, objective existence, and that the mirror is acting as a mere medium through which I make my psychological projections (albeit one that also acts in such a way as to contain them):  it too has an objective existence.  Yet the more I try to grasp, intellectually (i.e. scientifically), what the object called "mirror" is, the further it recedes.  Eventually I am forced to defy my commonsense understanding of reality and conclude that the conundrum is true:  the mirror is not really so much an object as a force, a field of energy which contains both objective and subjective elements, and which must therefore be defined as an admixture of both.

How do I grasp such an object, how do I make sense of it?  I do it by means of the biological tools inherent to the human brain.  I give it a name:  "mirror."  That which I have named "mirror" is, in fact, a wordless thing; and so too the word "mirror" has no genuine sense:  it is no more than a collection of (more or less) arbitrarily chosen shapes connected to (more or less) arbitrarily chosen sounds.  Yet it has the capacity to assign to the "force," the "field of energy" of the mirror a usable name:  and thus it is that I assure myself of my commonsense interpretation of this field of energy as having an objective existence.  Moreover, by using the name held in common by all the members of the society in which I live (and, differentiations in languages aside, by all of humanity), I align myself with the status quo interpretation of reality.

Language gets its supposedly "magical" quality through just this process:  in giving names to things we "bring them into being," are able to identify and grab hold of the "thingness" of things.  This "magical" quality of language is, in actuality, only a chimera, a facade; yet there is a kernel of truth in the idea that to know the true name of a thing is to gain access to its power.  For if reality (like language) is fundamentally a wordless thing, then to know the true name of any one aspect of reality is to know its name wordlessly.  This is why the name of God – "God" being representative of an ineffable energetic quality found in all particulars of the material world – was in ancient literature designated simply as "the Word," it being considered too sacred to be spoken and thus given an alternate name to replace that which was unutterable.  The name of God could not be spoken and yet be truly grasped.  Because this is so, God became, in the popular imagination, a thing separate from humans, existing unknowably in some unknown "out there."  God became, in other words, representative of a quality that transcended any one aspect of the material world.  Though the idea of transcendence is a false one – words themselves falsely "transcend" that which they seek to name, even while providing us with the means to describe and discuss the world in "objective" terms – the underlying insight that gave rise to this belief remains valid.  Reality itself can never be truly grasped, except through the voicing of the "wordless" word.  Neither can the self be grasped except by this same means; and to believe ourselves wholly definable by the verbalizations of the mind is to misconstruct, and thus misconstrue, the ineffable essence of who and what we really are.


   Make your mind grow bigger than
   Make your mind grow bigger than your
own head.
   Use your imagination to do this.

   Also use your eyes:
move them about so that
you are looking at the world around you
   as if you could see
      your imaginary mind
             out there!

   Do this at least once a day
for seven days.
   (This will help you to figure out