Some Measurements in Words

To look up an ancient Greek word is also to learn of the word's frequency. Learning Mandarin, we are given the 500 most frequent characters to learn first, which is similar. The Greek references are like seeing the inverse of what goes in to decoding hieroglyphs, or Linear B.
Different thought systems seem like languages, too; the music of ideas. Though some circuits have a break in them and words cancel each other out in contradiction. In every work regard the writer's end, to quote Alexander Pope.
Faulty languages are unprincipled retorts, having nothing of their own, and are but fashionable refashions. An example of this is the opacity of the language of thinkers who emerged into Western European languages from groups that were culturally oppressed but, post-Bakhtin - who opened the field for a variety of discourse, nonetheless promote obscurity through the displaced language of postmodernism, which ostensibly references that which came before but lacks the very sensitivity one would expect, above all, from the once-repressed. Fashionable refashions: knotting off instead of knitting from.
It was Pope who coined the phrase expression is the dress of thought, though of course we find material metaphor for thought in the ancient Greeks. Still, the idea of dressing up ideas is most appealing. But if we are to talk about that, then we can ask why is it that some people's prose is just so obscure? It is as if some people are trying to complicate things, "we entangle ourselves / in knots of our own making / and struggle, lonely and confused" writes Rilke, "So, like children, we begin again / to learn from the things ... / This is what the things can teach us: / to fall / patiently to trust our heaviness". Obscurity is evaded by material example and by pointing to higher principles. This is an elementary principle in composition: illustration and a clear purpose. 
Sartor resartus, the tailor retailored, sums up hidden intention. The tailor is made to not look like a tailor. When Ruskin uses this phrase, it is to describe the arguing governors who, "instead of shooting one  another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot". But sartor resartus is the title of a book by Carlyle - if you consult this brief description of the book, you will see the difference between Carlyle's dense prose and Pope's spacious work. It is in consideration of Carlyle's prose that I see the Victorian scientists' wish to "escape the tyranny of words". Tyranny breaks the circuit. Along with untamed numbers in the tyranny of scientism over all else, including science, and especially the exegesis offered by the humanities, outlined here.




A thought can be expressed in many ways. This is what we are taught in composition, along with instruction to spend time developing good ideas. One has stylistic choices - to use metaphors, quotidian anecdotes, reasoning - where what is true in one situation may be false in another vs. the unsound but clever form of casuistry, etc. I prefer writing to be conceived of as Montaignean 'attempts' and agree with this definition of the essay form for the humanities. Montaigne who "would probably show you his rash, tell you some dirty jokes, and ask ... about death" is preferable to Francis Bacon, who "tends to attract a more cocksure, buttoned-up fan base, what with all the 'He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises,' and whatnot."
Narrative is not to be definitive: Gadamer has shown that in the μῦθος depends on the retelling and should be able to go on indefinitely, "the very form of transmission implies the moment of continuation - 'and so forth' - which goes beyond what has already been said to something that still lies beyond it."  So vast is art, so narrow human wit, writes Pope in An Essay on Criticism:
"Yet if we look more closely we shall find / Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind / Nature affords at least a glimmering light / The lines though touched but faintly are drawn right, / But as the slightest sketch if justly traced / Is by ill coloring but the more disgraced / So by false learning is good sense defaced / Some are bewildered in the maze of schools [26] / And some made coxcombs nature meant but fools / In search of wit these lose their common sense / And then turn critics in their own defense". Writing words that do not allow us to penetrate the principles of nature and human existence, send us down "the maze of schools" - the trendy academic languages that some would have us submit to as slaves, not as the freed men of artes liberales.
"True wit is nature to advantage dressed; / What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed; / Something, whose truth convinced at sight we find / That gives us back the image of our mind." The true tailor seems to restore, like Hippolytus, return to the living, so to deliver a riddled political message. "Those rules, of old discovered, not devised, / Are nature still, but nature methodized; / Nature, like liberty, is but restrained / By the same laws which first herself ordained. ... / Moderns beware! or if you must offend / Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end".



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