The expert arrived at noon. He turned the lights off so we could see better. He lit a candle; we formed a semi-circle around him.

He told us that when we pursue the truth all we’re really aware of is how we have learned to describe something. He told us that we were creating the world we live in by speaking it into existence. We knew we were doing a bad job. The world we had invoked was a mess. But we could not stop describing it in greater and greater detail. He said that what really separates us from other animals is our ability to describe things.

He provided a simulation of the origin of language with actors. An ancient and serene forest was projected on all four walls. There was a sunset. Three hominids entered the room and began to grunt. They pointed to the red in the sunset, and the red in the autumn leaves, and grunted the same grunt. One of the hominids stabbed the other hominid to death and when the blood poured out, they grunted the same grunt. Thus, the metaphor of red was invented. The primitive geniuses also demonstrated the discovery of the concept “round” by grunting the same grunt for the moon as well as each other's heads.

The expert reminded us that all language is metaphor. He said we were living according to old experts and using old metaphors. Before, we just responded to stimuli, like animals. We used to be able to fit everything – everything, person, event, idea, and poem – into a single context. It was the only context that mattered because it was the only one in which our lives would appear as they truly are.

Now our devotion to reason-based living had imprisoned us.  Many well-meaning bureaucrats had tried to save us from ourselves through education, psychology, academia, medicine, and technology. He asked us directly: “Do you believe in truth or are you one of those frivolous postmodernists?”

Then he put it another way: “Do you believe in God, or are you one of those dangerous atheists?”

He told us he had a solution. He brought a new language with new metaphors. It was the language of silence. The procedure was painless. A patch on the abdomen would deactivate the voice box. The words would sound like grunts again. He told us not to be afraid, that it was okay to become animals again.

The Expert stared off into the distance with tears in his eyes. He blew out the candle – haven’t we already said enough?

Hannah Tishkoff is an artist from Los Angeles. Recent work can be found here and here.

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