Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Second Language

"There are two languages in language, two ways of speaking, two levels of linguistic usage. There is a language of clear truths, concepts, and formulas… Things are as they are, you say what you mean, as precisely as you can and as unequivocally. Speaking then is deciphering a puzzle, defining, prescribing limits…

"It is good that we have this language… But we never use it when we want to pour out our heart and say what is really in us, hidden and almost impossible to name. In questions of love and death and God and man, this first language, this first way of speaking , is not only inadequate, but also dangerous.

"But there is a second language… It is the language of what cannot really be said. The language that you speak so as not to have to be completely silent. The language of emotion and ecstasy…

"Language given across boundaries and always digging into what cannot be said, into that infinitely double ground of reality, language which leaves veiled and concealed what has to remain veiled and concealed, which evokes the paradoxical and the inaccessible of man’s existence and makes it present in paradoxical words and images…

"Secret language, in which you live as you live with another person, by approximation, near enough to touch, knowing and not knowing, safe and unsafe. A language which does not force itself on you, but does speak with authority and which appeals to another’s creative understanding. The only language which is really daring enough for people."

From “The Second Language” in Open Your Hearts by Huub Osterhuis

Photo of Cabalus guesthouse in Vezelay uploaded on Flickr

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