The Lion and the Ashes


« If a lion could speak we could not understand him », wrote Ludwig Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations.

This remark is worthy of consideration… and of generalization. What if it were a tuna, — or a rattlesnake nest, or a flight of starlings? Or a pile of dust, a block of granite, a cluster of galaxies? Or a prion, a plasmid, a proton? An angel, a seraphim, — or even God?

If God would speak, now, could we understand Him, more than a virus?

Is there any serious chance, after all, that we could just figure out, or somewhat understand, in any way, what is not human?

To start with, do we even understand what it really means to be human?

Pessimism usually prevails in this sort of metaphysical questioning. Leonine grammar is probably simpler than the Greek or the Sanskrit ones.

But these are probably much simpler than a seraphic one.

What is the worldview of the lion ? The crushing of the jaws ? The raw smell of blood, the subtle scent of the steppe?

What about the unfulfilled dreams of the fly, or the vulture, over the corpses? What about the ontological worries of the photon, lost in (relativist) translations?

What about the angel’s sorrow? And what about cherubinic rejoicing?

Isn’t all this, irremediably, out of syntax, out of any human lexicon?

If a million future Champollions tried to decipher, during one million years, the roar of the feline, or to decrypt the vibrato of the lizard, would there be any hope of breaking new grounds? Could we not, one day, find some Rosetta Stone translating equivalences among all the living entities, here on earth, and beyond?

Perhaps one day, we will find such powerful, universal, paradigmatic Babelian stones. Who knows? Who can tell?

Let’s make it simple. We should start by simply trying to understand men and women when they speak, or when they keep silent.

If we could really understand their silence, then perhaps we would better understand things that we still do not understand in the universe, — and perhaps we would get an unhinged glimpse at its core, silent, meaning?

Human speech is continuously made of virtual palimpsests. But these are ignored, — and they stay buried, hidden, impotent, powerless.

Human words have dark or shiny reflections, shimmering with a latent, interior, fire, — sometimes striken by an unexpected, unhoped-for, light of meaning, yet vigorously smouldering under the ashes.

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