85: Sign and Symbol

If the name of God were unpronounceable then God would not be his name. His name would not be Joe, or Hamid, or Yahweh, or something French I can’t pronounce. Maybe his name is unpronounceable in the sense that we’re not supposed to admit we know it. Maybe he has no name, for he had no parents to name him, no church nor government to write it down, no uncle to stick him in the ribs and say “Aren’t you a cutie, Fatso?” We think, like native tribes, whose tribal name means The People in their own language, his name is the word, in his own language, for Me, Myself, I Am Who I Am, but what is the language of God? We know he speaks all our languages, but does he have a language that he speaks to himself, that he sings in the shower, that he mutters as he watches our troubles on earth? Surely, whatever he says means just what he thinks it means, but does he make up new words to suit his needs when he knows all things to the end of time? If he has his own language is every word in it unpronounceable? If so, surely he can pronounce them. We can pronounce so little. Our words are proxies and orphans of shadows and relations; although they move friends, armies— like winds that blow the leaves about. Maybe the name of God is a thing that exists. We may name a thing (and pronounce our name), but the thing itself is unaffected. God however, can pronounce the thing— the seed, the blade, the rock, the spoon— so the thing itself appears and not a substitute for it. John Doe, Mister Right, Mathias Schaup; Mister President, Uncle Sam, Doctor Snake; The King, the Grand Canyon, the Moon; roar, bow-wow, slither, swelk;1 Billy, Smitty, Sitting Bull; neofuturism, psychobabble, kitch; hypotenuse, tri-geminal neurolgia, unicode; peanut butter, French toast, turtle wax; mama, hubbly-wubbins, grody; Greensleeves, Mares Eat Oats, The Miller of Dee; ‘swounds, blast, golly, gee; gleek,2 scatches,3 petty-fogger,4 jark,5 neidfyre,6 brillig.7

  1. swelk—The sound made by butter forming in a milk churn.
  2. gleek—A practical joke, a game of cards.
  3. scatches—Stilts to avoid filth.
  4. petty-fogger—A derogatory term for a lawyer.
  5. jark—A counterfeit certification.
  6. neidfyre—A fire generated by rubbing sticks together to counteract a curse against a farm animal.
  7. brillig—”’Twas brillig and the slithy toves,” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
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