"For instance, some languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts they are reporting. You cannot simply say, as in English, “An animal passed here.” You have to specify, using a different verbal form, whether this was directly experienced (you saw the animal passing), inferred (you saw footprints), conjectured (animals generally pass there that time of day), hearsay or such. If a statement is reported with the incorrect “evidentiality,” it is considered a lie. So if, for instance, you ask a Matses man how many wives he has, unless he can actually see his wives at that very moment, he would have to answer in the past tense and would say something like “There were two last time I checked.” After all, given that the wives are not present, he cannot be absolutely certain that one of them hasn’t died or run off with another man since he last saw them, even if this was only five minutes ago.
So he cannot report it as a certain fact in the present tense. Does the need to think constantly about epistemology in such a careful and sophisticated manner inform the speakers’ outlook on life or their sense of truth and causation?"
▼ So many fantastic and quotable things from this lovely article: Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
"Futile and sensitive, I’m capable of violent and consuming impulses- both good and bad, noble and vile- but never of a sentiment that endures, never of an emotion that continues, entering into the substance of my soul. Everything in me tends to go on to become something else. My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while. I note the slightest facial movements of the person I’m talking with, I record the subtlest inflections of his utterances; but I hear without listening, I’m thinking of something else, and what I least catch in the conversation is the sense of what was said, by me or by him. And so I often repeat to someone what I’ve already repeated, or ask him again what he’s already answered. But I”m able to describe, in four photographic words, the facial muscles he used to say what I don’t recall, or the way he listened with his eyes to the words I don’t remember telling him. I’m two, and both keep their distance- Siamese twins that aren’t attached."
▼ The Book of Disquiet,
Karen Russell, “Ava Wrestles the Alligator”,
St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Stories
"When I was a boy, we called it punishment
to be locked up in a room. God’s apparent
abdication from the affairs of the world
seemed unforgivable. This morning,
climbing five stories to my apartment,
I remember my father’s angry voice
mixed up with anxiety & love. As always,
the possibility of home—at best an ideal—
remains illusory, so I read Plato, for whom love
has not been punctured. I sprawl on the carpet,
like a worm composting, understanding things
about which I have no empirical knowledge.
Though the door is locked, I am free.
Like an outdated map, my borders are changing."
” by Henri Cole (The Atlantic
, July/August 2005)
(Source: , via theatlantic)