The Next Conversation: “Language”

Event Date: Tuesday, October 16, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle


The Summary

This time, we’ll be going talking about the power of language. Read on below for details. 

The Guests 

You’re the guests for this one.


The Story

Every so often, we like to do a conversation without invited guests. The number of attendees is usually smaller, say 10 to 15 people rather than the 40 or so who might come of a regular conversation. 

In these smaller conversations we get a good chance for more intimate discussion, and more possibilities for drilling in on specific questions.

This time, we want to talk about language. We want to go into its power and potentials, into the ways in which a turn of phrase or a way of naming something can have huge ramifications for the ways in which we think, and conceive of who we are.

A number of people I know have been thinking a lot lately about political language, especially the propaganda potentials for naming and for repetition of lies. Trump’s arrival on the national scene, of course, has accelerated the conversation, as have the ways in which language played into the Kavanaugh hearings.

But the power of language transcends politics, becoming a foundational way in which we make culture and define ourselves. 

Lately I’ve been researching the history of thinking about the interactions between art, science, technology, and society. In looking at that, I came across historian Guy Ortolano writing about British literary critic F.R. Leavis. Leavis, who was prominent in the 1950s and 1960s, was key to discussions at the time about interactions and edges between science and literature. In Ortolano’s analysis, this stands out: For Leavis, Ortolano writes, “knowledge did not exist ‘out there’ in nature waiting to be discovered, but rather was a creative achievement realized through language.”

Come and talk about how we create knowledge, and a lot of other things, through language.

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