In the Trenches of Language (I): A Restraining Order on Reality

Adrian J Ortega 🗺️🧭
2 min readAug 23, 2019

“Every word is a prejudice.” Nietzsche

“(…) contrary to what our desire cannot fail to be tempted into believing, the thing itself always escapes.” Derrida

Language divides, separates, and isolates. It causes a chasm, a difference, and a distance. It first sets a limit and a boundary between us and the-rest — what isn’t us.

We’re born into a name and surname(s). Labels are enforced upon us. They identify us against everything else, and establish a space between ourselves and the-other. They set us apart.

Language then separates and imposes borders between everything and everything-else. It draws and defines the otherwise blurry, fluid and fleeting contours of reality itself. Terms, concepts and categories crystalise, and saturate what’s inside the now rigid lines: “stuff” is turned into objects, specific and tangible.

Words condense and solidify reality. They also bring order and rationale, making reality comprehensible and pushing us to explain the world, forcing it to submit. We’re introduced into the realm of what’s controllable and manageable.

No matter how overwhelming and overpowering, the most fearful and trembling experience becomes relatively docile once named, because words define (put an end and make finite) and de-limit (set a limit): they enclose, confine, and corset phenomena.

Language enchains and muzzles the experience in an attempt to tame and domesticate it — to make it surrender. The straightjacket of clear and strict categories provides us with the comforting mirage of power.

But the soothing feeling of control comes at a cost. Unable to comprehend and experience beyond our awkward and stumbling limited discourses, we suffer the risk of turning everything we touch into stone, while becoming ourselves walking corpses: hollow and lifeless.

Only when we acknowledge the wound and scission can we begin to bridge the gaps, and ultimately come back from a barren, soulless existence.

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Adrian J Ortega 🗺️🧭

Existential Holistic Detective | Freelance Content Designer | Writing on content, Philosophy, and everything in between |