Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Words you understand but a meaning you don't

Imagine, she had told Control next, that language is only part of a method of communication. Imagine that it isn't even the important part but more like the pipeline, the highway. A conduit only. Infrastructure was the word Control would use with the Voice later.

The real core of the message, the meaning, would be conveyed by the combinations of living matter that composed the words, as if the "ink" itself was the message.

"And if a message is half-physical, if a kind of coding is half-physical, then words on a wall don't mean that much at all, really, in my opinion. I could analyze those words for years — which is, incidentally, what I understand the director may have done — and it wouldn't help me to understand anything. The type of conduit helps decide how fast the message arrives, and perhaps some context, but that's all. Further" — and here Control recognized that Hsyu had slipped into the rote routine of a lecture given many times before, possibly accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation — "if someone or something is trying to jam information insider your head using words you understand but a meaning you don't, it's not even that it's not on a bandwidth you can receive, it's much worse. Like, if the message were a knife and it created its meaning by cutting into meat and your head is the receiver and the tip of that knife is being shoved into your ear over and over again..."
— from Authority, by Jeff Vandermeer.

This is from the second instalment of the Southern Reach trilogy, about Area X.

Annihilation was creepy, thrumming our unease with the unknown in our external world. In Authority, the creep factor stems from the unknown in our intimate world — an invasion into the places we live, the work we do, the people we know.

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