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“The fall of humanity was the fall from the actual to the symbolic. Language abstracts us from the real world; keeping us from direct, intuitive perception. Words, like the ego, are merely guides. Don’t mistake them for the real thing. Pull aside the filthy curtains of the social. Language makes an enigma of simple existence; it obscures the true nature of reality and of your self.

– Tony Vigorito

For all who haven’t read Tony Vigorito’s book, Just a Couple of Days, I highly suggest you do. The general gist of the book is about a relatively confused, intelligent, and very scared, 30 to 40 something year old man  named Dr. Fountain, who is approached by the military to develop an antidote to a virus called the Pied Piper, which when contracted causes the infected to slowly lose their capacity to understand symbolic reasoning, ie: language, communication and thus they are left with no other choice but to DANCE!! Needless to say, the Pied Piper virus escapes its confined corridors and soon the entire world becomes “infected” with the dancing virus, everyone but Dr. Fountain, who (at least for a little while) remains hidden, contemplating behind closed doors, alone with his words, watching while the rest of humanity moved to the rhythm of the earth.

Just a Couple of Days rocked my mind the first time I read it 7 years ago, when I stole it off the book shelf of my friends sister solely because I liked the cove.. Fancy that, one might say, who would of thunk? But,if you read the book you will agree, there could have been no better way for me to have met eyes with it. But I digress. Read the book.

Just a Couple of Days really encouraged me to believe that the world would be a far better place if everyone was infected with the Pied Piper.

I have a love hate relationship with language. I love it, but at the same time I hate it, or more so, I resent it. And I think I love to hate it. The same way I love to hate a lot of things. I hate the fact that I have to go to college, or more precisely I resent the fact that I feel societal pressures to attend to college, which made me fear the life I might have had if I didn’t attend college, so thus, I am here. But on the same note, I love the experiences I have had here at Guilford. I love the friends I have made, the knowledge I have gained, the places I have been able to go, characters I have met.

But who is to say my life, would have been any better or any worse if I had or had not attended college. I am not sure if this analogy is quite matching up but, in regards to what I had said early, who am I to say that the world really would be sooo much better off if everyone was infected with the Pied Piper Virus.

I used to pronounce the word squirrel as squey-al before my mouth could properly create the shapes needed to say squirrel.  I used to wish I was a squey-al. Squey-al’s didn’t have to do “human things,” all they seemed to do was run around in the woods, playing, leaping. And once I found out what a period was, and that I was going to get one, I envied them even more.

I will never know what it like to experience the world without language. Talk, talk, talk, write, think, talk, think, talk in my dreams, wake up, think etc. repeat. It is all very exhausting, distracting and virtually impossible to silence.

“The fall of humanity was the fall from the actual to the symbolic. Language abstracts us from the real world; keeping us from direct, intuitive perception. Words, like the ego, are merely guides. Don’t mistake them for the real thing. Pull aside the filthy curtains of the social. Language makes an enigma of simple existence; it obscures the true nature of reality and of your self.

I am seriously confusing myself, dragging myself, with my own two hands, down a long and inescapable labyrinth. It’s almost laughable that I am sitting here reading this quote (that may or may not actually reflect Tony Vigorito’s true beliefs), written to explain to the reader the hindering effects of language. This of course is the irony of human intellect and the basis of philosophy.

Perhaps deep down I believe symbolic reasoning is the fall of humanity. We have allowed language, or more specifically written language, to make the world more anthropocentric then ever. We have cut off the rest of the world, and in turn cut ourselves off from it. We have developed an exclusive language, a language that can be written, and thought, so it does not even have to be vocalized and thus does not have to be shared or experienced by any other species but our own.

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This summer I joined the Southwest Conservation Corps and spent 12 weeks in Colorado building, cleaning, and renovating trails. My crew spent 9 days at a time out in the wilderness, overworked, over-hiked, underpaid, and shower-less, but those 3 months were the happiest I have been in an extremely long time. Before joining the Conservation Corps I had never even heard of the term LNT. My crew leader was so hard core about it that we weren’t even aloud to take rocks out of a park. When they first read the 7 principles to us I sort of thought yah, yah, duh, and they went in one ear and out the other. There came a certain time when it felt like the outdoors was our home. We were sleeping outdoors, working out doors, putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into creating space for others to come to enjoy the outdoors.  We saw bears, and porcupines, heard mountain lions, and coyotes, we ate the tiniest most delicious strawberries hidden between ferns on top of mountains I had no idea could be soooo magical. The respect I developed for the land was something entirely transformed from the respect I thought I had going into the experience.

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If you are in the mood to read something interesting…..Look up Self-realization: An Ecological Approach to Being in the World by Arne Naess
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