Message in a Bottle cards

Message in a Bottle cards - The Delta Factor Scientific...

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The Delta Factor Scientific language gives us an incomplete picture of nature, we must shatter the mirror of language to remove the obstruction it presents to our view of the world Percy ’75 (Percy, Walker, Novelist and Theorist of Semiotics, Excerpt from the book “ Message in a bottle”, Essay “Delta Factor”, ) This behavior seems a good deal stranger to the Martian than it does to us. This is the case because language is the very mirror by which we see and know the world and it is very difficult to see the mirror itself, to see how curiously wrought it is. In order to see the mirror of language, it is necessary to turn it around so that it no longer reflects, distorts, transforms . Say the word glass. It is almost impossible to hear the sounds for themselves because they have already been transformed: they sound like glass. The word glass sounds brittle, shiny, transparent. Now try this. Repeat the word aloud fifty times. What happens? Somewhere along the way the word loses its magic transformation and, like Cinderella's other slipper at midnight, becomes the ugly little vocable it really is: a small explosion of the back of the tongue against the palate, the rush of air around the sides of the tongue, a bleat ending in the hissing of breath between the teeth and tip of tongue . A very odd business. The Martian is surprised by what he sees and hears. In order to prepare himself for the journey to earth, he has read many scientific books and journals brought to Mars by astronauts. These works, in biology, psychology, physiology, have led him to believe that man is not much different from other earth creatures, certainly not qualitatively different. He has the same kind of anatomical equipment-nerve, bone, and blood-exhibits the same chemical reactions, the same transactions across his bodily membranes, the same capacity to respond to stimuli, adapt to environments, and so on. Imagine the Martian's astonishment after landing when he observes that earthlings talk all the time or otherwise traffic in symbols: gossip, tell jokes, argue, make reports, deliver lectures, listen to lectures, take notes, write books, read books, paint pictures, look at pictures, stage plays, attend plays, tell stories, listen to stories, cover blackboards with math symbols-and even at night dream dreams that are a very tissue of symbols. Earthlings in short seem to spend most of their time trafficking in one kind of symbol or another, while the other creatures of earthmore than two million species-say not a word. When he asks his hosts (in ESP) about this strange behavior, he gets a curious answer from earth scientists. Mostly they seem anxious to convince him how much they are like other creatures rather than different. "Ever since Darwin," say the scientists, "we have known that man is not qualitatively different from other animals. In fact the whole burden of earth science is to discover similarities, not differences, to establish continuities, not gaps." "Yes," replies the Martian, "but you talk all the time; you're talking now." The earth
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