Heal the word

Introduction by: Diana Ocholla

A challenge, an invitation, perhaps, to question and disrupt. In this piece, Amit Palgi pokes at how we think and why we think what we think. It can be so easy to fall into the mundane, the routine, but what happens if we get too comfortable and stop questioning? If we stop interrogating why things are the way they are?

So let’s start here. With words.

Words are crazy.

So crazy… Words are literally not from this world. Don’t you agree?

Think about it: I’m sitting here in my cosy green garden, pressing some buttons. This creates some small shapes on my screen, shapes that were invented almost 3,000 years ago by a stranger that none of us met.

And now, on the other side of the world… You’re looking at all these small shapes one by one. You’re translating them into sounds you hear in your brain. This sound translates itself into an image only you see.

And now you have an image of me, my garden, my laptop. Even though we have never met. You have no idea who I am. Who is this person you created? For sure it’s not me.

You can create a whole new world with words. A world that, without your words, doesn’t exist in the outside world.

If I wuold put these vreyold small shapes in a different order like ‘wWo wno s’ti nno-ssenen… uoY

an’ct rtundsera nyathngi! uoY r dtsudip ro thwa?’ you would think that I’m completely crazy.

But the same symbols organised like in this sentence can trigger your imagination. If I were to write ‘the fat and stupid president’ or ‘the president who dared to act,’ you will automatically see images in your brain.

Did you imagine one president? Or did you see two presidents, a different one after reading each sentence?

It doesn’t matter. The president(s) you saw exist only in your brain.

Maybe you saw a ‘real’ president in your head. A famous one. But even if this is the case, you’ve probably imagined a picture. Not an image of a person you saw in your real life. You just stole an image you got from the media, one that has been transmitted to you through other platforms. An image that has been saved in your head and has now been called back to the top of your brain by my words. All of that happened only inside of you and nowhere else in the outside world.

That’s why when someone tells me, ‘It’s so sad that all the cute seals are dying,’ or ‘Did you hear that soon there will be no more glaciers on Earth?’ I don’t get too excited. Even if there were no more seals and glaciers in the real world, it wouldn’t affect me. The number of seals and glaciers I’ve seen in my life is equal to the number of witches and dragons I’ve seen.

Did what you’ve just read make you angry? Did it make you laugh? Did the symbols that I’ve chosen create a change in your physical being?

I’m afraid of climate change, but not because of the seals.

I’m afraid for selfish reasons. I love life, and I don’t want it to stop.

I’m afraid of the unknown.

I’m afraid of unknown death.

I’m afraid to suffer.

I’m afraid people I love will suffer.

Did these words change the image you had of me in the beginning? Did you read me in a different voice? Has the image of me sitting in my garden and typing changed? Has the image in your brain of you, sitting in front of this text, changed since you started reading it?

That’s why I write. These symbols created by ancient Romans have no objective value and are made out of nothing—at least nothing that exists outside of our brains.

They can create changes. They can create stories that change the hormones and neurons in the brains of strangers. They shape the worlds we create, shape how we see the world.

If words create worlds,

what worlds do you want to create?

How would you shape this one?