A variation on the theme “seeing is believing” and on the slogan “language is action” – words are more than words…
I wrote last time about the Easter ritual that requires people in my home country to say “Christ is resurrected” at a specific time of the Easter night, and greet each other with these specific words between Easter and Ascension. If you don’t say the words it’s as if Christ had never resurrected – so the words are part of the happening.
Today I’m thinking again of the power of words to make things BE. Though on a very different note.
It’s such a common thing these days to use erotic language when making love – or sex. Some request it as a condition when making contacts on dating sites. They say such talking turns them on. There is here a question: do words simply activate reflexes (I hear the words “f… me” and I automatically get my hormones frolicking about), or do they enact another reality (I hear the words “f… me” and this brings up in me the tough, taboo-less male / female)?
I don’t believe the words in such situations activate reflexes. We would have had to hear them repeatedly before making sex, and this is not the case. People can also be very creative in their erotic role-plays, which means they say things that haven’t been said before, but simply reinforce a certain role.
I think talking “dirty” makes one – sort of – be “dirty”. If I talk like a bitch I become one. It’s like – excuse the hilarious association! – one of Shakespeare’s magic comedies with wizards, elves and talking donkeys. As people open up their mouths and utter the magic words, they turn into that creature. As they utter the magic words, they are part of a different play, acting against a different script. Roles are enacted by words.
Of course a logical corollary of this is that when you hear someone talking “crap” you shouldn’t ignore it and just shrug thinking “well, it’s only words”. There’s a good chance that the person talking crap IS crap.