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The Bird As Language

The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas…

From Toni Morrison’s Nobel Lecture, December 7, 1993




4 thoughts on “The Bird As Language

  1. So beautiful. She was who inspired me to write. Thanks for this tribute.


    1. Her powerful intellect was matched only by her powerful ability to express her complex and controversial ideas in such lucid and heartfelt language that positively inspired so many to act…

      Of the America that is truly great to me, of its truest spirit, of its truest identity, she is of the fiber that makes it so.

      1. You said it right there. Her tales were like long poems.

        1. …that can knock your socks off.

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