There is today, pupils, primarily one fact that we must all face if not explain, namely, that human language is here to stay, in spite of the movement toward its total eradication.
The forces bent on supplanting human language with interest media appear to be enjoying great success and verging on the ultimate culmination of their purpose: mimicry, echolalia, kinesthetics and other assorted parrotisms. Yet, should you permit this lecture to function also as a lesson, those forces will not reach their end, not as long as spare time affords our species the luxury of boredom. Profound ennui accompanied by even a single moment of reflection will prompt expression, not unnaturally as image, dance or some mindless reproduction, but naturally in the form of the kind of novelty that only our human language can innovate.
Have no fear that amusement will invariably capture every waking hour of the day and that sleep will evoke only dreams of previous entertainments. I understand fully that this prospect is your chief anxiety, that each and every one of you attending this gathering must irrevocably become a stockholder in the corporation profiting from the decease of human language, like some windfall paid out by insurance agencies. I press you to consider this eventuality the least of your cares: Make note that, when your own lives in due course grow unbearable under the weight of banality, you will find a means to realize yourselves more articulately than incomprehensible beasts' howls or the hackneyed phraseology of the ditto; trust that your birthright relies on a bottomless well that human language offers you and remains at your beck.
And as you are persecuted unimaginably for drinking from it, slake your thirsts mightily, shamelessly and without regret or apology.
But keep securely in mind, I urge you, that as you are crucified for dressing thought in the garbs of utterance, it is not your human language that has made you a human; rather, your courage to speak uniquely, genuinely, solitarily as well as your will to suffer excruciatingly, for this courageousness designates your membership in the species.
By describing a state of affairs that holds of the world, as you see it, discerningly, and then ascribing that description unto an entity that is most indeed of the universe of discourse, you will have paid your dues, the cost of which, in times such as these, is human life itself.
“Is it really worth the price?” you may be asking yourself, now, or even me.
My short answer is, "you will never really know until you try it (and, after that, of course, it will be much too late)."
A more considered answer will be furnished in the next lesson; if we see each other at that time, then I shall appreciate that today you have learned at the very least to keep your thoughts to yourselves. And so ends lesson one.
"The future of Anthropology is far too fragile to be left in the hands of the anthropologists, especially pros."
Dr. Heem, alleged faultless oracle of the 20th century
It must be noted for the record, and for anyone whose attention is attracted to the quotation, that I changed it a little bit. A thorough fact-checking will show that it is almost verbatim. Almost. And, where it is found deviating from the letter of that source, it is entirely uniform with its spirit. Which is difficult to know, from a purely scientific angle.
But Science and Anthropology are not always of one mind, for example, when the numbers for the human condition simply won't add up. While the previous statement is simultaneously oversimple and nonspecific, to be sure, it serves suitably enough in describing the state of the Immediate Locality witnessed from the observation-post that I've been feverishly occupying for three years, three months and 25 days (sic).
I'm not a lawyer, yet I feel confident that, in this particular case, I don't really need to retain one to grasp the principle of that archaic ruling: In a civilization of broken studies, fragility is victory, but this Pyrrhic success is no interlude for resting on one's laurels. To the contrary. Labors must be multiplied geometrically, trajectories plotted with greater precision, sacrifices made devoid of protestations.
The willful ways of a complete amateur, who works without compensation and hence presumes a right to carte blanche, a daring combination of free-lancing and hustling in search of The Firm.
© Summer 2016