Line drawing in black ink on white background of two gooseneck barnacles, one big one pregnant, looking at another little one, both smiling.

The magic of words

To try and trap what seems impossible to explain in a complicated word pretending that the others are the ones that don’t understand it is not at all scientific. Nevertheless, it is a very common practice. Whoever names the concept first, owns it. Even if the concept has existed since the beginning of the world. Fallopian tubes, for example, existed before Mr. Falopio was born and still exist despite the fact that little Gabriel died in the 16th century. Poor Falopio didn’t even have any. Even though he went to the best medicine school of the time.

Now they don’t even call them like that anymore. Scientific language is very interesting. It is like literature but without the demand on the scientists that they write well. Unfortunately. Sometimes I even suspect that it is difficult to understand what they write not because the subject is in itself complicated, but because the poor things don’t know how to write in a way that makes it understandable. During my most cynical moments I can even think that something is considered scientific merely because someone has been able to describe it with words.

Listening to a philosophy programme on the Swedish radio where some scientists talked about the Big Bang, it caught my attention when the presenter asked them: “But, do you really understand what you are explaining to me?” And the scientists replied: “No, we just get used to it”. This often happens to me. I don’t understand, I just get used.

Things can also be understood without having words for them. Words are like vehicles transporting knowledge, not the knowledge itself. Certain types of knowledge need words more than others. I don’t defend inaccurate language. Precisely because of that, a dependency on explaining everything with words annoys me. Because if we have to give something a word just because we have to give it a word, we run the risk of choosing the wrong word. Like people who want to be with you because they can’t stand being on their own. They are not friends, nor limpets really, either. We can try to find them a name, but it is better to get rid of them altogether and stop wasting time.

And as a self-respecting artist defending the artistic, I promote the use of the right hemisphere of the brain. Therefore, the linear doesn’t always win. Only when it makes sense from a compositional point of view. In any number of dimensions. It is impossible to explain a piece of art with words. It can be suggested, interpreted, described. And luckily. Because, if we could explain art with words, why paint a picture o make a video or a performance?