Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Power of Words

Often times, when people hear a song, they simply bob their heads to the music, tap their feet to the beat and maybe even sing long with the chorus if they happen to know that noone is around to hear.  Just as well, when mos people read a poem, they see a grouping of words that rhyme and comment on the flow that the combination of words creates.  This is a very sad thing indeed...

The true power of words is frequently underrated and in such, the meaning of said pieces of literature are either forgotten for the general populus' ignorance, or much worse, overanalyzed and thus the meaning lost.  Take the following as an example:


I clamber in the darkness,
From one folly to the next,
And tell myself that things are right.
But the truth I must confess.

One of my favorite pieces of writing, it is short and concise and seemingly has no point.  In general, someone would look at this and see crap.  For me though, the beauty of this poem doesn't lie in the words written before me, but rather in the void felt when reading this poem; it almost sets up a setting, it almost creates a character and it almost sets up the plot, and leaves the reader hanging asking themselves several questions.  In a sense, the meaning behind this poem, rather than being defined by the words the readers have before them but by the emotions required to fill in the blanks.

To get to my point, words are mearly symbols.  Using my belief system in this case, these symbols we rely on day to day have evolved through the centuries showing us the true power of the words we use from day to day.  They began as simple symbols like the sound for "water" and the sound for "sabertooth tiger right behind you" and slowly became more complex as our need for communication grew.  Words become more powerful, more complex, and yet more mysterious as the meanings for them become less specific.  I tell you a story about a man walking into a bar and seeing a dwarf, and every person who hears it sees a different man, a different dwarf and even a different setting altogether.  Then we move onto the abstract words, the less specific words and thus, the more powerful words such as frustration, anger and most controversial of all, love.  I say the word love and the sound waves move through the air, enter your ear, travel through this byzantine conduit in your brain and reach all of your memories of past love, future love and even feelings that are mistaken for love.  I ask you if you know what I mean by love and you tell me that you do.  But how can I be certain that you really understand?

Words are mearly symbols that we, as humans share and link our lives with and when one truly understands the meaning for words such as love, you feel a sort of connection with that person; something so beyond physical that you have no choice but to accept the importance of that communication we share.  But even without words, we communicate on so many other levels and they all link back to the metaphysical power of a single word.  Almost as if, in a way, humans have the ability to share thoughts and feelings.

There was a study done once where there was a large group of people that were isolated from society for a large amount of time, and they were given crossword puzzles daily and graded based on how well they could fill them out.  Randomly, without any knowledge to the subjects, the scientists gave them a crossword puzzle that was a day old, that thousands of people around the world had already successfully finished and on average, they did 20% better on those than the others.  Almost as if once an idea is out there, it can be shared with anyone else in the world.  Many neuroscientists actually agree that once a memory is created, it has about half a billion years for people to draw off of it.  This directly relates the the idea of reincarnation, where some people believe that they were cleopatra or someone great in the future.  This reincarnation idea can easily be disproved though because in the last 40 years alone, the population has doubled, giving you a 1/2 chance to be the reincarnate of someone from 40 years, and an astronomically small chance that you were someone from thousands of years ago.  This is invariably linked back to the power of the spoken and written word.

This could easily explain the reason why over a dozen independent scientists all around the world often "coincidentally" make huge technological advancements almost simultaneously.

Just something to think about next time you have a conversation, or read a poem or listen to a song.  Maybe even food for thought next time you learn something you swear you've already heard before.  The words we use (or don't use)  have a power still unknown to us and it could prove to be a powerful tool in everyday life...



  1. Cellar Door as in the most perfect phrase as mentioned in Donnie Darko :P

  2. yes, mentioned in many works of art, it is thought that it is the most perfect phrase due to its balance and flow. It was analyzed using phonoaesthetics and has been proven to be the most perfect in the english language. As done by J.R.R. Tolkien... Check out "English and Welsh"