why did humans invent words?
Maybe they started with a few basics – warnings, commands, barter. From there, like with everything else, they didn’t see a reason to stop. Plus, they discovered word-play. Ah. A whole new way to while away those long winter nights in the cave. Tales of daring. Tales of the mammoth that got away. Tales of distant tribes and their dangers. Tales of neighboring tribes and their menace. Tales of transgression and punishment. Jokes of varying levels of subtlety. Group rituals and invocations. Private words for private moments.
At the group meeting on Friday, we talked about bonding rituals. How a society marks the gateways from infancy to the post-funeral event. Prescriptions. Tabus.
One of the participants who works in Judiciary measures for juveniles brought up the growing difficulty she had in making the parents appreciate the seriousness of some behaviors – online harassment and death threats against a school scapegoat, for instance. The sharing of nude photos of a friend. Threats of blackmail over the exploitation of someone’s secret. And so on.
This led to a wider discussion on the notion of privacy vs sharing. Someone mentioned that strange new word in the title to this post. In her view as a psychologist in an emergency service for teen-agers, their whole notion of intimacy seems to have morphed to one of safety through sharing on a virtual platform. A way to escape the loneliness of self.
The whole thing doesn’t sound in the least bit unbelievable. What is a public blog if not another way to “share” what you experience? Share what and with whom? Learn through the school of bad knocks, I guess. Which brings me back to fiction – another aspect of extimacy. One that’s been around every since humans went on a gab fest.
In the dream, the woman to whom the group had appealed for help in lodging a refugee family said she couldn’t do a thing for them. Then, she went around smiling and having a kind word for all the participants in the meeting – a way to get the group out of her conference room. The group started exchanging stories instead. The dreamer listened with growing interest. Unfortunately, real life intruded when angry men got into a fight out in the night. They yelled and hollered and punched away – I doubt any of them understood a word in the flow of insults they exchanged. The only good news to report: as long as humans go on insulting each other, the fighting hasn’t reached a paroxysm.
All right. Today: the second and final round in the regional elections. Plus the day Swedes celebrate their winter feast of light. Lucia Day, they call it. I’ll navigate my personal December 13th somewhere between those two bits of human lore.