English itself, as a language, is made up of two component languages; how it is Written and how it is Spoken. We tend to see these two as a pair, believing them inextricably linked. But they aren’t. As anyone who has ever tried to learn a second language can attest, proficiency in reading is not necessarily matched by proficiency in speaking, and vice versa.
Written language is almost universally a system whose purpose is to contain and store the phonetic syllables that make up a language. It is interesting to note that those languages that aren’t written to hold phonetic data (Say, for instance, binary or hexadecimal) are much more efficient at holding data, but nearly impossible to learn how to speak fluently.
Now take for instance, your average English peasant in the 14th century. Here is a person who works, accomplishes complex tasks, knows more about nature than most of our current generation ever will, but he cannot read. Not knowing how to read does not in any way inhibit his ability to communicate, or does it demonstrate anything about his intelligence. The only difference is that he just hasn’t learned the Written Language. All told, this metaphorical peasant knows his spoken language as well as you or I, his lack of knowledge surrounding the written portion does not stand in his way of that.
But, could you try to imagine someone just learning the written language, without the spoken portion? Take a hypothetical world where suddenly no one may speak, but they are forced to learn to write. It seems weird, doesn’t it. This is because spoken language is at the core of our language, spoken language is why our language exists. Learning how to read the letters that represent the syllables without learning how to say the actual syllables seems a little inefficient, doesn’t it. It seems in this way that learning a language requires first the form of its sounds, then the forms of its letters. Here is why.
In addition to the two languages we have learnt once we are free of grade school (being written and spoken English) we learn a third language, and we learn it from birth. There is a reason why a fight is a fight in any language, or why smiles don’t require you to learn Swahili just so you can see if they are smiling. The third language is that Universal Language that most everyone on this earth understands; Emotion.
It seems bloody obvious when I say it, doesn’t it. But of course it’s always the obvious factor that we miss. This human language is the most essential language we ever learn. Imagine not being able to tell someone’s emotion, not being able to pick up on subtle body language, and everything else we don’t even notice anymore. There are some forms of autism, brain disorders, and psychological problems that can prevent someone from learning to “speak human” as it were, and the handicap they suffer is as great as any paraplegic’s.
We don’t notice how ingrained emotional language is in our culture, nor do we have any great need to. But it is helpful when looking at any social interaction to realize the depth that such an interaction contains. Looking at a transcript is not the same as hearing a recording, which pales in comparison to being able to actually See the social interaction. Body language is just as important (if not more) to diplomacy as good rhetoric is.
I know this seems like a bit of a non sequitur, and I can freely admit that it started as such, but the significance of this is not to be downplayed. Part 2 will cover how this effects performance.
I spend so much of my life worried about the predominance of culture that I have no clue anymore why culture needs its predominance. They say that culture is the currency of a people, but what purpose does this currency have if its only purpose seems to be to immortalize the creative. If any goal has ever irked me, it is the goal of immortality immortality. Only the selfish aspire to live forever, it’s a goal that only proves that one’s ego is so large they cannot stand to let it ever deflate.
Perhaps I am too cynical. Perhaps it could be said that the goal of creation is to spur change in the world, and it is almost certain that art has done that. Everything from books, to movies, to plays have shown the world something that it hasn’t seen before; that the shadow of hate still exists, what the future could hold, and what the past did, what life means. From a young age we are raised with stories whose entire purpose is to present to us a moral. Perhaps to a certain extent, Aesop raised us as much as our parents did. But outside childhood, are we still taught by stories, or do we just watch them enjoy the brief entertainment, and continue on. More concisely, what purpose does art serve in culture?
- To Teach and Inform
- Inciting socio-political change
- Moral stories
- Informing an individual about the past
- Positing a possible future
- To Entertain
- Absorb a viewer into a world
- Base titillation
- Incitement of an emotion
The first purpose of art, To Teach and Inform is a well-documented one; touted by academics everywhere who love to believe that art is not just for entertainment. To be honest, a fair amount of art is in fact used for teaching, but in recognizing the only purpose of art as education we overlook the driving force of Art. Entertainment.
It seems like such a dirty words when it comes to art. Why create something that merely entertains when it can hold a breadth of intellectual merit? Why create something that everyone can relate to when one can cater just to the critics? People need to be OK with creating Art that exists for the sole purpose of entertainment.
Why is it suddenly “Selling Out” when something is created just for entertainment’s value. God knows Shakespeare appealed to almost every income class in Britain, and he is still read today by students and professors alike. The problem is, academics try and see beyond the entertainment, reading too much into what they think he wrote into the words. Let me make this abundantly clear, When you are an underpaid writer/actor living in a place where writer/actors are considered vagrants, you don’t write to appease intellectuals, you write to appease everyone possible. Now just because someone writes to entertain the masses, doesn’t mean that they are selling out, it means they are writing to entertain the masses.
While teaching is A purpose of art, its value is determined by its entertainment. Art is only remembered if people actually watched it.
In order for a species to develop a civilization that is advanced in a fashion that resembles humanity, the following conditions must be met.
- Rational Intelligence
The intelligence of a species must be such that it allows for an ability to deduct simple conclusions from relevant data. The most basic aspects of abstract thinking must be present.
- Social Structure
A species must both be willing to function in solitude and in herd. If a species is purely solitary, it cannot pass on its gained knowledge, and if a species relies on the herd too much, large leaps in growth are prohibited as tasks that are more efficient in solitude are performed in herd..
- Communication, Memory, and Oral Tradition
In addition to rational thinking, it is necessary for a species to pass on what is has learned to its offspring. Previously found knowledge must first be remembered in order to be built upon.
- Fine Tactile Manipulation
A species must be able to manipulate its environment instead of allowing its environment to manipulate it.
- Imperfect Evolution OR Extreme Change in Environment
Without reason to make the switch from adapting to changing an environment, a species will continue along its path. Creatures with near-perfect evolution (i.e sharks and horse-shoe crabs) don’t develop culture. Creatures that are imperfectly evolved, or are suddenly introduced to an environment that doesn’t suit their evolution, are then forced to manipulate their environment, possibly to an extent where civilization is created