Culture replaces authentic feeling with words. As an example of this, imagine an infant lying in its cradle and the window is open, and into the room comes something, marvelous, mysterious, glittering, shedding light of many colors, movement, sound, a transformative hierophany of integrated perception. The child is enthralled, and then the mother comes into the room and says to the child, “That’s a bird, baby, that’s a bird.” Instantly the complex wave of the angel, peacock, iridescent, transformative mystery is collapsed into the word. All mystery is gone, the child learns this is a bird, this is a bird, and by the time we’re five or six years old all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words. “This is a bird, this is a house, this is the sky,” and we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of disempowered perception.

~ Terence McKenna, Ordinary Language, Visible Language and Virtual Reality 

Notes: Quote via cobotis. Photo: Ahmed via Eyeem via


  1. Anonymous says:

    It is about objective truth not perception.


  2. and some things require no words.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps… but I don’t think all perception is disempowered.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s a beautiful poem by Rainer Maria Rilke about this, about how naming things makes them less than they are – it’s hard to translate Rilke well into English, but here’s one version that might give you an idea:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing. Love Rilke but hadn’t seen this before.

      The words of humans fill me with fear

      The words of humans fill me with fear.
      They name all the things with articulate sound:
      so this is called house and that is called hound,
      and the end’s over there and the start’s over here.

      Their thinking is scary, with scorn they have fun;
      they know what will come and what came before;
      and even the mountain is sacred no more:
      their property ends just where God’s has begun.

      I’m meaning to warn them and stop them: Stay clear!
      It’s the singing of things I’m longing to hear.
      You touch them and stiff and silent they turn.
      You’re killing the things for whose singing I yearn!

      ~ by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926), “Ich fürchte mich so vor der Menschen Wort”, appears in Frühe Gedichte, in Gebete der Mädchen zu Maria

      Liked by 3 people

    • And your comment reminds me of:

      “Hiking. I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word “saunter?” It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,” To the Holy Land. And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not “hike” through them.”

      ~ John Muir, in Muir and More: John Muir, His life and walks by Ronald Turnbull

      Liked by 6 people

  5. No words. Delight with the comments, held by Rilke, reinforced by Muir.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Such beautiful and potent words and an apt picture. An innocence of bliss, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is so true. But what is the alternative? We are, after all, an articulate species.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the discussion as much as the post. This phrase stands out: “…all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words.” I appreciate the sentiment, but ironically, I am dazzled by the wording he uses to describe it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sweet, photo…I like the John Muir quote…Words, attache names to items, devolving a concrete ability to navigate within a given host language, as language experiences progress, how they relate a taste of ice cream, to yummy and how the interplay of emotions, mingle in…i so think of the children who born or become deaf, or blind, or mute or challenged in other sensory or functional ways and how the lack of early language skills or no language skills at all, impact…I also think of the Joy of Discovery when a child put meaning to the classified word of an item or to a person…I so remember some of my daughters early words, Daddy, Chocolate, Tag as she always played with the tag on the bed pillow when she wake up and we weren’t ready to get up, she would be picked up from her crib, so she’d come and sit between us as we tried to rest, we would say you are the between-er! as she would touch the tag, then when the word phrases came along, she would take such delight in noticing that the pocket door was open she would become bright eyed and say ” I shut the door” and she’d climb off the bed and slide the door shut, triumphant in her feat…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A lovely reflection 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So sad it is a times when we come to know the truth of a thing.
    “For in the eyes of an unknowing innocent new born we truly see the universe as it is. With all awe and wonder in its majesty.” – G.K. Chesterton

    Liked by 1 person

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