Essais Pour La Vérité
Essai (/ɛ.sɛ/, /e.sɛ/)
A trial or a test; an assay or search; an attempt or an effort; in the literary sense, essay.
Pour (From the French)
Meaning for, to, of, or towards.
Vérité (French, /veriˈtā/)
In Search Of Truth
Language is useless.
Of all the human creations in the world, language can be said to be the one that fails the most often. Many foolishly naive predispositions about language exist:
"It's helpful because then people know what the other is thinking."
"It's totally good because without it, I couldn't talk with my friends!"
"Language helps people learn things!"
But reality isn't as happy-go-lucky as these idealistic beliefs make it out to be. Just because you said something in words doesn't mean it'll reach the other person. Believing that with language, you can know just what someone else is thinking is unbelievably arrogant. Thinking that your use of language will allow the other person to understand you is incredibly self-righteous. In reality, words are garbled, misspoken, and misunderstood, and somewhere along the way, whatever message might've existed just vanishes; an ephemeral dream wisping away before the incessant buzzing of the alarm clock of reality.
"Talking with friends:" yet another foolishly idealized tenet of language use. Although talking with friends, hanging out, and the like are generally viewed as wholesome and fulfilling activities in the lie called "youth," these delusional dreamers fail to see their own hypocrisy. Talking and laughing with a group is almost always an illusion, a sweet facade put up over the fake, selfish, and inconsiderate people involved.
And when the group is not made from calculated necessity, a manipulation for an end goal or a game between selfish people with smiling masks, when the people involved are reasonably authentic and sincere, then the talking is but a momentary reprieve. A break, a lull, an interim remission of the punishments of the world. That temporary feeling of happiness can't really be called genuine, as it fades into the abyss without fail when grasped at. It's manufactured happiness, a simple release of a few minor hormones into the nervous system, stimulating a feeling of contentedness that vanishes by the time one realizes it was there.
Language is good for naught but dreams and lies. So what if you can come up with a cool saying? In the real world, that won't get you living expenses. Making others laugh is a form of egotism, and conversations between friends are simply shallow people gaining superficial pleasure from affirming each other's trivial existence.
Moreover, spoken language is only about 30% of communication-the other 70% is done through body signals, facial expressions, and voice inflections. Even if one never talked to anyone, they could still perform 70% of the communication ritual. And that 30% is hazardously full of misnomers, misuse, misappropriation, and misunderstandings.
Language is as good as useless.
So I shouldn't have had to write this essay.
Notes: You're doing this paper again, you cheeky little bastard. Or else.
And it better not be more of the same.
Shadows are great.
Scientifically, a shadow is caused when a light ray impacts an opaque object. This creates a space behind that object where no light from that source can reach, as well as an outline or negative image of the shape of that object.
Most of the time, people's shadows fall behind them, on the ground, where they are accepted, ignored, taken for granted. Other times, there are simply too many light sources to create the adequate amount of darkness to notice a shadow. Shadows cannot be examined by traditional methods-after all, even if shining a flashlight under your bed lets you see the cobwebs and dust better, shining one at a shadow will only make it vanish.
Shadows can be twisted, warped, or misproportioned. Simply by casting a shadow in the 5:00 sunset, one finds that it is much taller than they are-a fact most of us have come to accept as common sense. But shadows rarely retain the exact image of their caster; rather, they conform to fit the object or background that they land upon. The shadow of a car driving along a roadside will jump, dip, and twist as the car passes hills, buildings, ditches, trees, and fields.
But perhaps the most interesting part about shadows is the meaning that they mysteriously contain. A two-dimensional object, by definition, yet it still allows a representation of a 3-dimensional object. Regardless of how strangely formed they appear, shadows provide a glimpse at the shape, the nature, the identity of the caster. Like a picture of a cube drawn on a sheet of paper, a notion of the third dimension can likewise be drawn from a shadow. Although it can only serve as a flawed representation of the real object's true nature, shadows can allow us a guess. An attempt.
Words are a lot like shadows.
Scientifically, language is a collection of sounds produced by the human voicebox and diaphragm that we have assigned a meaning and a significance.
Most of the time, people's language is used casually, for mundane and material topics, and the words they use are accepted, ignored, taken for granted. Other times, people use their language for harm, to insult others, to put them down using age-old, unoriginal phrases that were passively accepted by society as derogatory. Language cannot be examined by traditional methods-in the words of the great American poet Billy Collins, we can't "begin beating it with a hose/ to find out what it really means."
Words can be twisted, warped, and misproportioned. Simply by talking with a girl in a classroom after sunset, most people will read too much into the situation-a misconception that defies common sense. But conversations like these rarely have the luster of an idealistic fantasy; rather, you probably just had cleaning duty together, or you were forced into an inexplicable club with the type of person who enjoys hurling biting insults at others. Words conform to fit the background of the listener's personality, and so they are misinterpreted according to that person's hopes, dreams, or aspirations, into something inaccurate, imagined, and untrue.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about words is the meaning that they mysteriously contain. Words are simply sounds, collections of letters or characters, a 3-dimensional medium; and yet they allow us to convey meaning about 4-dimensional ideas. Regardless of how confused, backwards, or warped our words and sentences may be, they provide a glimpse at the shape, the nature, the identity of the concept or feeling that the speaker is trying to illustrate. Like the shadow of a tesseract cast on a 3-dimensional plane, a notion of the 4th dimension can likewise be drawn from our language. Although it can only serve as a flawed representation of that genuine thing's true nature, words can allow us a guess. An attempt.
Writers love to talk about universalities, hoping that in doing so, their words might become some garbled form of truth. Imagine a shadow play, if you will. A production where little figures, ornately and intricately detailed, dance around on sticks before an audience. A puppet representation of the real world, conveyed in language; in words; in speech and writing. Those puppets cast shadows on the curtains behind them; clumsy shadows, shadows that don't care what the puppet's face looks like. Shadows that don't care what the puppet's details are like. Shadows that are impartial to the superficiality of those little actors, instead trying to vaguely ascertain some kind of pattern or reason, quite literally behind it all. Words, like those two-dimensional puppets, are the facade behind which hides those imagined universalities, those deeper meanings, the logic by which we imagine the world is supposed to work.
The shadows behind those puppets-are they the truths we search for?
The ideas behind those shadows-are they the truths we search for?
"Hey, hey, Hikki, whatcha got there? Is it a test? How'd you do?"
"...so many questions, so little time. Jeez, it's not a test. And...well, I did okay."
"Ara, for Hikigaya-kun to consider himself to have done well. He might have actually broken a 50 for once."
"A HUNDRED!? Hikki, I didn't know you were smart!"
"I'm not sure whether to be insulted or not."
"Hmm, I suppose you did rather decently. After all, even I don't get perfect scores on EVERY assignment."
"...that was extreme egotism, disguised as humility."
"No, I was simply stating a fact. Facts are by nature impartial, didn't you know?"
"But they can be used to argue a point. A point which, in this case, happens to be extremely egotistical."
"It's not egotism if it's true. And besides, as I've said before, those that have never worked hard for their goals have no right to be jealous of those that have achieved them."
"But I did achieve my goal."
"...I'm still a bit lost about how Hikki got a 100 on that writing assignment. I mean, I knew you were good at modern Japanese, but not THAT good…"
"You know, this is still only gonna be a 90% anyway."
"...I turned it in late."
Disclaimer: I do not speak French.
Hey guys, ImaNuke here with the new chapter 1! When I wrote this, I figured I'd make it the first chapter, since it's technically the "title chapter." Plus, the whole series started with Hikigaya writing an essay like this, so I figured that you can't go wrong there! Hope you liked the essays too, and as always, thanks for reading.