As I read the following my mind slid back to other words read recently, words of Chris Hedges, words of Russell Brand - two very different sources featured in posts in the past couple of weeks. Words to stir the blood, to energise the mind, to encourage thought, to reassure that there are others out there who feel as we do..... There is magic in words.
Mr. Hoffer suggested:
Nothing so baffles the scientific approach to human nature as the vital role words play in human affairs. How can one deal with a physiochemical complex in which reactions are started and checked, accelerated and slowed down, by the sound or image of a word - usually a meaningless word?
It is of interest that the practice of magic where nature is concerned - the attempt to manipulate nature by words - rested on the assumption that nature is not unlike human nature, that methods of proven effectiveness in the manipulation of human affairs may be equally potent when applied to nonhuman nature. It can be seen that such an assumption is the mirror image of, and not infinitely more absurd than, the assumption implied in the scientific approach that human nature is merely an aspect of nature.
We know that words cannot move mountains, but they can move the multitude; and men are more ready to fight and die for a word than for anything else...................Words and magic are particularly crucial in time of crisis when old forms of life are in dissolution and man must grapple with the unknown. .............A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action.
― Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal of Change
Words: "abracadabra", "ooo-eee-oo-ah-ah-ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang" - two silly examples of magic words, the first from stage conjurors' playbooks, the other from an old pop song The Witch Doctor. They are throw-backs to an ancient belief that words and/or sound could indeed bring about change, drastic change even.
Words put together with talent and skill can sway human nature, for good or ill....(hmm a rhyme!) Full effects of words only become visible when the time is right though. More wise words from Eric Hoffer, this time from The True Believer - Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements:
"For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and the potentialities of the future. Finally, they must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap."Words, for now, are all we have.