Leavings Of Another World
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Words have power.

Indeed, they have the power to create, but mostly they have the power to destroy. Does that really surprise you? Let me demonstrate. Please think of an animal, any animal. It could be anything, right? Two-legged? Four-legged? Winged? Anything. But, now suppose I said "Think of a quadruped". It can no longer be two-legged, can it? It can no longer be a bird or a fish. And if I said, "Think of a black, domesticated feline", your choices are narrower still. And finally, "Think of Bastet, my pet black cat"? At that point, you have no choices at all. You may believe that each step gives you more information, but what it really does is limit your imagination and destroy possibilities. The power to destroy, you see, is much greater than the power to create. You just didn't notice because you, yourself, are a creature of thoughts, ideas, language, and ultimately of words.

Suppose I told you there was once a world without language, without ideas, without words. Of course "world" itself is a word, so it wasn't really a world, but we have to call it something, now don't we?

In this world there were no limitations. Everything that could be, was. Everything that couldn't be, also was. It was a vast place of infinite complexity, but also of infinite simplicity. Since everything that was or wasn't, also was or wasn't everything else, the endless variety was in fact all the same. You say it's difficult to describe? Indeed, that's the point: It can't be described. It was everything and anything, and something and nothing, and all-at-once and not-at-all.

What happened to it? Words, of course. It started with a single, simple word, in a language that no one speaks anymore. No one knows where it came from or how it sounded, but I'll tell you what it meant. It meant "red", and as soon as there was "red" there was also "not-red". The world had been neatly cloven into red any-every-somethings and not-red any-every-somethings. It was the first division, and the very idea of division spawned more ideas and more words: "one", "two", "separate", "together", "us", "them", and from these came more: many, many more.

As more words were created, more limitations took hold. Everything that was, had to be, and everything that wasn't, had to not be. The any-every-somethings could no longer be each other. They couldn't be anything or nothing. They had to be something, or they had to not be. Possibilities collapsed and ideas locked into place. It took less than a second for the entire world to come apart. Nothing was left, nothing except for Things: rocks, air, fire, water, light, darkness, love, hate, up, down… Things.

You're right: We still have all those things. In fact, our world is made from the wreckage of the world that came before, the world destroyed by words. Now I'll tell you a secret. I'm not promising that this part is true, but it's what some people say. A few of the any-every-somethings escaped the words. They avoided description and survived the death of their world. They're still around, some say, and probably not very happy.

What are they like? We can't really imagine, now can we?

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