Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Postverbal, part 1

As our protagonist lounges in a recliner, sipping kombucha and enjoying the gently swaying trees, mostly clear skies, and fragrant air of a warm, early-summer day in Cascadia, something fleetingly occurs to him regarding his own name, Zen Coolidge.

Growing up, people often complimented him on his name. "COOL name!" - a nice enough, if somewhat obvious and literal-minded, comment to hear frequently from new acquaintances. If names mattered - and they did matter in many ways in those relatively superficial times, the late 20th century of Zen's childhood and the early 21st century of his early adulthood - then his served him reasonably well.

But now, it's been quite a while since the last time he saw or heard or used the words "Zen Coolidge." Have you ever suddenly remembered an old friend whom you hadn't thought about in what seems like a very long time? It feels a bit like that when Zen thinks of his name.

It's not that he has changed his name or assumed a different identity. It's just that people don't use words much at all anymore.

Zen lives in a postverbal era. Words can help to convey the events of this sci-fi scenario to those who still live in a verbal era. But postverbal people like Zen largely think and communicate in other ways. Words are nostalgic.

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