Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What is in a Word?

“For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it. For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us. But, primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone we can survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing that is growth,” (Audre Lorde Sister Outsider 43).

Tomorrow the arts organization a group of peers and I are starting, the Feminist Creative Alliance, will be having its first event, “What’s in a Word: a Feminist Response to Language & Power.” The theme for the evening is one very dear to my heart: communication. Not just how we deliver thoughts to one another but the underlying meanings of words, and the ideas between the words. It’s really interesting to think about how our knowledge base connects so tightly to the capitalists in control of our country.

It’s interesting to debate whether we can ever move beyond the power structure because our language, our way of communicating and knowing is so intrinsically tied to preventing that from every occurring. Can we ever get to the words we really need for change? Is the word “change” really what we’re aiming for? Or perhaps we’re searching for transformation, alteration, overthrow, underthrow, a slight make-over or a drastic revolutionization.

What are the truths in our language? If we think of the alphabet as symbols restructured over and over to communicate and share ideas is there ever any solid foundation to meaning? Though we like to imagine our society being based within some type of structure, that structure has the potential for serious modifications. CAT could suddenly be the word that describes what we know today as DOG, DOG could become TREE etc. etc.

Because the symbols make up words, and the words make up meaning all it really takes is a relearning, a redesigning of the meanings behind the symbols. “It is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding,” if we do not have the words, how do we carry on truth for a better, more accepting, and open world? Do we create our own? Do we communicate in ways beyond words? What does that look like?

Perhaps we will move closer to some of these answers tomorrow. If you’re in the neighborhood please come check it out.

What’s in a Word: Feminist Response to Language & Power

Thursday March 4th, 2010

6:30 p.m.

DePaul Library

2350 N. Kenmore Ave.

Rosati Room 300

Chicago, IL

For more info

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