Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Dark Side of Language

Words have such power to inspire the human spirit. There are so many great works of art that can ignite the spiritual flame within us to better ourselves and lift us out of pain and misery, allow us to dream and wonder and provide us with better understanding of our world and our role within it. The great poets, lyricists, writers and orators of our species are shared with each generation, and in turn inspire new artists and wordsmiths to find their own voice and they then inspire their own generation and the cycle continues. The power of language undoubtedly has the potential to create such beauty in the world. But, it also has a dark side.

Language can be used to twist meaning, manipulate others into doing their bidding for them and has the power to cause great suffering and death and destruction on our planet. Inspired by his uncle Sigmund Freud, and his belief that mankind harbours great destructive desires that drive our unconscious, Edward Bernays knew the importance of language. He knew that by masking language from its real intent was the key to control and power. The father of “public relations” (which he coined as a mask for its true name “propaganda”) built this insidious empire of lies to deceive the general public.

This is the secret of propaganda: To totally saturate the person, whom the propaganda wants to lay hold of, with the ideas of the propaganda, without him even noticing that he is being saturated.” - Paul Watzlawick, Austrian Psychologist.

We are suffering from Bernays’ treachery of language today. It is ingrained in society like a parasitic organism, feeding on our darkest desires and whims. They sculpt the truth into twisted spires of hypocrisy and chicanery. They sculpt the individual into an obedient fearful creature, hell bent on self-preservation and self-gratification. On the one hand they offer redemption. On the other hand they demand enslavement.

Faceless corporate advertising agencies tugging at our spiritually malnourished being, conspiring public relations firms deliberately massaging our inflated egos and appealing to our more lubricious desires, unethical and morally reprehensible news and media conglomerates malevolently nurturing our primitive anxieties and helpless disquietude. If only they were watered and fed and allowed to blossom…breathing life to a world, where people are persuaded to pursue their own selfish interests and to indulge in their destructive vices at will, with little or no disregard for others or the fragile ecosystem around them…

We must not let them debase our language. Hiding their true intentions behind a veil of deceptive double meanings and duplicitous doublespeak. Instead, we must celebrate and champion the real craftsman of the spoken and written word. The true pioneers of human social and spiritual evolution. And more importantly, provide a healthy and vibrant society where these poets, songwriters and story-tellers are given license to dream and wonder and share their findings with us all, to the benefit of the entirety of mankind.

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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