WORDS & MATTER / & NO MATTER (a gleaning, from 1988(?), & a meme, from today

words matter meme.jpg


Words are things, as material things are things; words can be objects, of our thoughts or our actions, as can material things, but whatever matter is, words are not matter. You could say, like numbers, but numbers are also words, a certain kind or class of words. Like thoughts, then? Thoughts are immaterial, but in a different way: every thought is, unique, it passes through the mind and is gone, if it comes again, as a memory, it is part of a new thought, or if you think the same thought at a different time and recognize it, it’s still another thought though its content seems the same. And thoughts are composed of words. You might have a non-verbal thought, but you mightn’t call it a thought, and when you do you use words. Thoughts also involve action, and so material things like electricity and chemicals in the brain are part of the process of thinking.

Words are like works of art, though also not like them. People say words are signs, but they can be more than signs, and can also not be signs. Every word was once invented by someone, whether as a sign or something else, and that invention is always a creation like a work of art. And if you say you don’t use works of art as you do words, think again, because there’s a sense in which you do, and artworks do too when they quote other artworks.

But you don’t ordinarily just contemplate a word like you do an artwork, and that’s the major difference: the artwork was created for contemplation, the word was generally intended for communication. And when a word was created for contemplation, it was no longer just a word, it was an artwork, a poem, or a mantra, which are other immaterial things in the world apart from words, but are also dependent on words. Even the most non-verbal humanly produced artifact, even if created by a deaf-mute never exposed to words who produces it by imitation, was once thought of and planned and brought to execution and public sharing by the mediation of words. And to this day no artist who is not spoken and written about in words can expect to be known as an artist.

So what is not material in our reality is dependent on words for our recognition and our relating to it. Words themselves do not invent all that is immaterial: the musician composes or plays, the sculptor and painter make forms and like the poet but without words, images; the dancer dances. What matter words?

But then, all that is material in our reality we relate to through words. Or the words are the accompaniment to the music of our perceptions and sensations and emotions, we use the words to organize or to believe we organize these experiences. What do words matter?

The words we have, and the ways we have of putting words together create the parameters of the reality we can relate to and the ways we have of relating to it. In optics, it is apparently known that because of the lattice-work of blood-vessels that veils our sight, we actually see perhaps 5% of what there is to be seen, and we put together a whole picture with our imaginations, and we believe that picture is what is there to be seen. That may be what we do with what we think we know through words.

The word is neither the written sign or the spoken sound. We write it, we speak it, but what we write is not it. We can’t use it up. It? I write its sign, you read its sign, but where is it?

The word, all the words there are so far, all those I know and those I don’t know, some of which I might learn and some of which never, are always “there”, and also “here” in my mind as long as I’ll be around. The words are untouched by my use of them, I think, but that needn’t be so. Perhaps I work a subtle change in the scent of each.

As words, all words are equal. There seems to be no single word that is radically primal, so one could say that all words, and the very existence of words and such, derive from it. If there is or ever was a language that began out of someone simultaneously speaking and inventing a single word and someone else hearing it and understanding it as what it was, that word is unknown. There are radical words, that a number of words may derive from. Like in English you have words made from radicals with prefixes or suffixes. Have you ever thought of all the words that are made by putting prefixes before -cept or -ceive or -ception, or before -vert or -verse or -version?

No matter, words matter.

So, how crazy can I get?


So what was this obsession with the illusion that I could actually get this message across & with meaningful effects to my Israeli Jewish (as they would describe themselves) friends in particular & in some sense still compatriots – apart from its structural resemblance to other obsessions with other illusions that I’ve had, or that have had me, some perhaps even crazier than this one, but that’s a subject for later maybe – how could I think that it might be able to break through the apparently impregnable shields of their Israeli Jewish national identity narrative to actually see & feel that they are in fact inhabitants of Palestine who are continuing to dispossess, occupy, trample on & deny the human and civil rights of their fellow-countrymen who happen not to be Israeli Jews & that it’s long past time to establish a real democracy in that country. That – how could I think this? – more than why can’t they feel & see that? is what I need to look at.


I saw the headline of this article by Paul Mason in The Guardian, earlier today, but for some reason thought it wasn’t serious. Then I saw it again in my Facebook newsfeed, shared by my FB friend Paul Norton, whose opinion I esteem. So I read it. Click on the picture or title to read it too.

& I think it’s a brilliant analysis of how information is corroding the neoliberalcapitalist market economy, & is — for our world’s social future — the best news ever since capitalism began , & essential reading for everyone on the “left” everywhere in the world.

(& Postcapitalism’s a pretty good name: you can post, i can post, we can all post…)

Of course it could be a brilliant sinister spin to keep us (we the majority of today’s working class, everyone who works to stay &/or keep others alive  [today they call it the workforce]) consumerhappy, complacent & complicit in keeping neoliberalcapitalism’s heartless global control & austerity going (Mason tells us the true meaning of the word “austerity”. ‘Austerity is not eight years of spending cuts, as in the UK, or even the social catastrophe inflicted on Greece. It means driving the wages, social wages and living standards in the west down for decades until they meet those of the middle class in China and India on the way up.’

Is it a spin? I (ever the optimist, & seeing much evidence around me of what Mason writes about, & a firm believer in the power & importance of the imagination  — like Mason: ‘The power of imagination will become critical. In an information society, no thought, debate or dream is wasted – whether conceived in a tent camp, prison cell or the table football space of a startup company’) don’t think so.

‘New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself. / I believe it offers an escape route – but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do. And this must be driven by a change in our thinking – about technology, ownership and work. So that, when we create the elements of the new system, we can say to ourselves, and to others: “This is no longer simply my survival mechanism, my bolt hole from the neoliberal world; this is a new way of living in the process of formation.”

There’s also a fine excursus on how ‘Marx imagined something close to our information economy. He wrote its existence would blow capitalism sky high’. & a glimpse of the future:

‘With the terrain changed [by the growth of the postcapitalist economy], the old path beyond capitalism imagined by the left of the 20th century is lost. / But a different path has opened up. Collaborative production, using network technology to produce goods and services that only work when they are free, or shared, defines the route beyond the market system. It will need the state to create the framework – just as it created the framework for factory labour, sound currencies and free trade in the early 19th century. The postcapitalist sector is likely to coexist with the market sector for decades, but major change is happening.’

& in the meantime — apart from developing the postcapitalist sector however much we do or don’t, &, as much as we can, working to influence the state to create the necessary frameworks, which also means spreading information about the information economy & its hopes, so that politicians will need to consider these matters — do we stop opposing global neoliberalcapitalist profits-before-people&environment projects & treaties & nationalist, ethnic, racist, or religious preneoliberalcapitalist exclusions, exploitations, discriminations, and devastations? I don’t thnk so.

guardianmason endcap

& yes, i’m stoned. so — is this less so? the best news ever since the beginning of capitalism?

& if you like &/or agree with the article, how about sharing it? (& if you like & /or agree with this post of mine, why not share it that way?)