Leaking Meaning

There’s so much meaning in the world. I always think back to all the stories I’ve read. To Ursula Le Guin and the worlds she made. To how much they shaped me. I’m scared that even if we keep the paper, over time the meaning leaks out of stories. As culture changes, language shifts and the implicit concept map we have of the world alters over generations, stories no longer mean the same thing. Sometimes they mean something entirely new and hence from the death of one story another rises. Other times, most times the meaning just drains away. Most people reading the Iliad today can’t understand it, not really. They see the events and the order they happen in but the characters minds and the world is so alien that little meaning remains. The struggle of fighting against a better king than yours because your tribe is against their tribe. The age old question of how to come to terms with war knowing that some of your enemies are good people, that their struggles to fight for their families and people are as just as yours. The tastes and sounds and sights words bring to us. The web of social norms through which we interpret characters actions. I was watching the wire today and I realised that I saw so much more now than I had a few years ago, largely because I’m less autistic and can understand what’s happening between and within people better. Maybe we all have autism when trying to read stories from distant cultures.

There’s so much meaning lost and it’s so hard to preserve. Even if one day we have god-tech and can alter our minds so that we inhabited the same mindspace as a contemporary reader, it still won’t help. Changing yourself that much means it’s not you any more. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s sad to think of how much we’ll loose and how much we’ve already lost.

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