Showing posts from March, 2009


On the Forgetting of Language

Just as speech can be acquired, so can it be lost. Speakers can forget words, phrases, even entire languages they once knew; over the course of time peoples, too, let go of the tongues that were once theirs, as languages disappear and give way to the others that follow them. In Echolalias, Daniel Heller-Roazen reflects on the many forms of linguistic forgetfulness, offering a far-reaching philosophical investigation into the persistence and disappearance of speech. In twenty-one brief chapters, he moves among classical, medieval, and modern culture, exploring the interrelations of speech, writing, memory, and oblivion.

Drawing his examples from literature, philosophy, linguistics, theology, and psychoanalysis, Heller-Roazen examines the points at which the transience of speech has become a question in the arts, disciplines, and sciences in which language plays a prominent role. Whether the subject is Ovid, Dante, or modern fiction, classical Arabic literatu…




Here are some of the remarks by my friend Bal. These remarks are part of an ongoing discussion, but can be read independently too. These remarks leave one utterly speechless, so, here are they:

It seems to me that the world is not a problem to be solved. Nor is it a puzzle to crack open a secret code. THe world is not a place that someone can get an angle on - no sianpa aids. There are no secret passageways that the wise or elite know, no specific techniques that the religious know, no principle such as “reason” can ground our projects, no unmatched bravery that the “warriors” know. etc. It seems to me the world is a place of contestation - ceaseless problems that never resolve finally. The world is an undecidable - and here I am in complete agreement with Prabhsharandeep - it is not a place where absolutes can grow - for it is too closely tied to our imaginations. In other words “the world” is something that is in very important ways unsayable, unthinkable especially given its layers …