defining language to conquer labels
by jennifer kiley
i’ve been having a debate on labels for a long time. don’t like them when they are derogatory. but when one uses them in writing are they still labels or are they words you use that people are familiar with and you are trying to reclaim their value and to redefine their core meaning in a positive way.?
i am bipolar or i have bipolar.
i am a lesbian or i am woman identified.
i am a writer or i am an author or i am both.
when does one change from being a writer to an author?
does it happen once you are published?
or are you always both because if you keep writing than you may have something that is published and writing that is in process. and you may never be published now, in your life time or ever. does that stop you from being identified as a writer? is the word writer a “label?” or is writer just a way of expressing part of who you are so that you and others can understand something that may be important to you. or it is just a way of identifying yourself or the way others identify themselves. if you write poetry, are you not a poet? do you think it is important that someone besides yourself knows that?
it is a driving force in our society to have at least some sort of identity or you might feel lost. if you have nothing to hold onto that is you, do you stop existing? is that why some people “lose their minds?” what exactly does it mean to “lose your mind?” it seems rather careless. that is something oscar wilde would say. i think i went through a phase in my late teens that somehow i was going to “lose my mind.” where i got that idea, i don’t remember. except that i was fascinated with psychology from the time i first discovered it. understanding the mind. when i would get stoned on pot, i would want to analyze the experience of getting high, i had and still do have a strong need to understand everything.
back to identities: when does one have the right to define their identity with words that give their life meaning and a way to define who they are? is it for themselves to place the word artist into thier verbal or written bio or must the outside world or culture give them the definition of their life’s existence? the acceptance of the world, is that what is needed to feel you really exist? when we are kids, many of us have a wish to be famous. is that about immortality? it doesn’t seem to make the really talented geniuses of the world terribly happy about fame. i think it’s more about leaving your mark, making a difference, helping to change the world in some way that improves it and that has a postive effect.
i have a confession. there is something that bothers me, i feel very wrong about people who become famous because they are famous for doing absolutely nothing. they just happen to be on a reality show. and i am not talking about shows that support talent. they are famous for living in front of a camera. what is that all about? the film “The Truman Show” showed how phony that really was. i don’t get why anyone watches these shows.
digressing is something i am quite good at. my next question is where does meaning come from afterall?
there are books written about probably everything that exists in the human universe. but then there is always a place for different interpretations of any thought or theory that exists or that hasn’t been hatched out yet.
is everything known already but just impossble for any human mind to perceive in an open consciousness? the buried unconscious or subliminal subconscious or vivid dreams that reveal symbols to the hidden part of the infinite universes. we just need to remember. maybe we all have temporary amnesia about all that has been revealed to us.
death is such a secret. why? what would be so wrong in letting us all in on the (i wanted to say “joke” but that would be rude) secret? are the athiests right? my feeling is no one really knows the truth, at least not the full truth. it’s been divided up and administered to various gate keepers or secret keepers. that way no one can tell the whole story. we each have to tell our own part of it.
is that what writers do?
is that what artists do?
is that what musicians do?
is that what poets do?
does everyone play a role in holding onto the secrets of the infinite?
now i am going to be facetious. do politicians have any clues to the meaning of life, death, the hereafter or were they sent down here to play chess with the lives of all living things? some i feel are sincere but most i am not sure that i trust their motives. what is their real purpose?
i once asked myself, more than once, does one need meaning and purpose to live out a contented or happy life?
my life is driven by the force, but once i was under the spell of the protestant ethic. work. work. work. it didn’t matter that you enjoyed it. what mattered is that you just did it. shut up and were satisfied. happiness didn’t matter.
when i speak of the force, star wars comes to mind, but it isn’t that force necessarily that i am referring to and yet it might be. i am talking about being connected to the energies of the multi-verse with it’s 11 dimensions. infinity upon infinity upon infinity and so on. we always think that we are the only planet with a life force of humans and other living things. how arrogant are we? this vastness of space that goes on forever. think about the possiility that there are other universes and there are other life forms who may or may not think about the philosophers’ questions of life and death and infinity. our brains cannot consciously perceive the infinite. we may try but our brains might explode if we actually succeeded.
so back to labels. i like to know who i am, to understand the inner workings of my being. i use words through writing and talking to express that meaning. to go beyond myself, i want to understand the basic meanings of life. love is important to me. caring for other creatures, human and animals are important to me. feeling excitement and exhilaration when something special effects my life or the lives of others in my world. my world may start with those i am close to personally but it extends to all people. in a symbolic way, i care that anyone is not loved, is suffering, is starving, have no shelter, are being harmed in any way. i don’t understand why there exists in the world so much hatred. i know why there is so much animosiy and hatred but why people want or do feel this way needs to be corrected and turned into peaceful coexistance. whether that will ever be possible, i cannot say. it isn’t about to happen in the near or far off future and i am an optimist.
now is it wrong or just part of using language when we give what we are writing about words that give the appearance of what some perceive as labels? i think we need to use whatever words are within our grasp to tell our stories. you can’t stop using the word bully because we don’t like what it stands for and means. when i use the word it is understood. so back to the beginning, it is when words are used in a derogatory manner that turn them into labels that are negative or bad. but when i am telling you the truth about someone being a bully, the word is being used to express meaningful communications.
this discussion has only just begun. words are important. if we didn’t have them it would make it extremely difficult to communicate. definitions are also important. that is what creates the understanding between people.
one last point: it is extremely important for people to reclaim words that have been distorted and used as slanderous and to humiliate. we need to instill the power back into the words that were usurped and to give them there true meaning and remove the stigma that ignorance has placed on them. the list is long and the reclamation is a gradual process. but we need to be brave and say the words out loud until we can shout them out until all the world can hear them.