Is language a distraction?

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Is language a distraction?

Post by artisticsolution » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:17 pm

Last night went to see the Academy Award winning silent film, The Artist. Although it was original, I must say I was disappointed in the shallow plot. Oh sure there were s few symbolic representations that I guess they threw in to fool the public into thinking the film was deeper than it was...but generally they ruined it by making it a love story.

The one scene that stood out and made me acutely aware of sound as a language all it's own. It was a scene where he actually started to hear noise. He put his coffee cup down on the table and it made a small clunk. Then his dog started barking, he became distressed and started screaming....but I think he was the only thing that remained silent or maybe he actually screamed...I can't remember. All I know is he stumbled outside and he heard a girl giggle....and then another...and another....until finally he focused on a feather dropping silently to the ground only when it landed it was not quiet as expected. It landed with a huge boom...and what I thought was really interesting was his reaction to the huge boom. He couldn't cope with it. I found it interesting he expected it to fall softly when he acted as if he had never heard a sound prior to the cup. How would he know to expect the noise of a feather and then become distressed when it did not make that noise? I think that would have been a more interesting direction to take the film. They could have asked some very interesting questions and taken the film in a more philosophical journey. Oh well.

It would have been cool if they would have continued with that theme as if the man was having an existential breakdown. But instead they turned his experience into a nightmare sequence and followed the tried but true romantic plot...with a little twist... too small to mention...very shallow.

Anyway, loved the one scene and how it spoke of a certain language of the sounds of the world around us...and how they can terrify us, anger us, clam us, etc. And then I thought of sounds as a distraction. I wondered if we use sound to distract us from thinking too deeply about ourselves and our existence. If everything was silent, I wonder if we would replace sound with another distraction...such as sight....and if we didn't have sound or sight...what would be the next distraction?

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Re: Is language a distraction?

Post by duszek » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:23 am

Sounds convey feelings and emotions. Whatever we say we also express some emotions at the same time.
A cheerfully chattering person can expres existential fears for example.

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Re: Is language a distraction?

Post by The Voice of Time » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:38 pm

Silence, as Terry Pratchett would say, is not only the absence of sound, but, there is that silence, which makes such a loud noise you need to add some sound as to make it harmonious.

That "sound of silence" only takes your distraction away from another distraction. What allows for greater thought within silence, i think, is just your distraction turned at that noise, giving you a continuum at which you can weigh your thoughts undisturbed. Because silence is persistent, and because of its persistence, it is a steady-something for which you can hold on to while you vulnerize your mind to new thoughts and ideas, maybe the echo of your own mind, or the usually unnoticeable consciousness of minor qualities about something.

there is of course such a thing as "too loud to hear my own head thinking". If you're nervous, that "loudness" can actually be applied to the sound of silence. For instance, let's say you are with a woman who already got a husband, and you hide out in the closet. The sound of silence can be extremely bothersome then, annoying even, to the extent that you just want to hear "something", and you can't hear your own thoughts because you are too gripped by the fear seeping into you from silence for instance.

I think you would find this rather interesting an though (from
In The Last Messiah Zapffe described four principal defense mechanisms that humankind uses to avoid facing this paradox:
Isolation is "a fully arbitrary dismissal from consciousness of all disturbing and destructive thought and feeling".

Anchoring is the "fixation of points within, or construction of walls around, the liquid fray of consciousness". The anchoring mechanism provides individuals a value or an ideal that allows them to focus their attentions in a consistent manner. Zapffe also applied the anchoring principle to society, and stated "God, the Church, the State, morality, fate, the laws of life, the people, the future" are all examples of collective primary anchoring firmaments.

Distraction is when "one limits attention to the critical bounds by constantly enthralling it with impressions". Distraction focuses all of one's energy on a task or idea to prevent the mind from turning in on itself.

Sublimation is the refocusing of energy away from negative outlets, toward positive ones. The individual distances him / herself and looks at their existence from an aesthetic point of view (e.g., writers, poets, painters.) Zapffe himself pointed out that his produced works were the product of sublimation.
As for the question: is language a distraction? Yes and No. Given the above, you can distract yourself with hearing a political speech and screaming "OOOOOOOH YEEEEAAAAAH! GO X-CANDIDATE! GO X-CANDIDATE!", but if I told you: "hey, could you pass me that ketchup?", the "distraction" doesn't seem to be reach any critical bounds of impression, however, to add ketchup to your food is a kind of minor distraction as the "impression" can be stated as the aesthetic satisfaction at the taste of a supposedly necessary and overly good sauce of tomatoes, WHEN, in fact, it might not have made any other difference to your sandwich than making it slightly less boring, in other words you distract yourself from boredom, or from the conclusion that you are bored.

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