Here is a really interesting conversation with Noah. We have been watching a documentary (Soviet Storm: World War II — In The East.). At his age he is absorbed to the war scenes. Then, driving from his school we were talking about how Russia fought the war, he started saying that Stalin is the head of all Russian troops, and he quoted a famous order by him that no one can retreat (I think he was talking about the Leninggrad).
So I said, you know, Stalin was actually a terrible person. "Why?" "Cause he is a dictator." "What is a dictator?" I actually don't know. I tried to come up with a definition, "Dictator is someone who does not like disagreement. He only wants what he wants." "Oh"
Then, we were talking about German, "Hitler is a dictator, too." I said. "No!" "What do you mean by no!?" I was rather alarmed! "Adolf is not a dictator!" He said it in such an affirmative tone that I was truly start to wonder what type of message/impression he has got about Adolf Hitler. "But why you say so?" "Because, there is a general who was constantly disgreeing with Adolf. Constantly!" errr.....
This makes me wonder, how many of these knowledge we have taken so much for granted, never questioned much, thought we have comprehended thorough without doubt (of course, who could argue when we say Stalin and Hitler were dictators? and don't we all know what dictator is, when we see one!?). Then, come along these kids. You star to realize just how uncertain you actually are about what you think you know. Really, dictator, how to define it? and is that definition, whatever it is, questionable also? What about other words, probably good words? What are they? Why there are some traits in human we have always admired, respected, hoped to become, like integrity, honest, kindness? Or, are they also recent events, maybe after the Renaissance(?), like the idea of State, patriotism, identity of a country, or race?
I have always challenged the human language that on the one hand they
are necessary to describe, to communicate, thus essential to us. Yet,
they are constantly in flux that new words created at the moment that
fits perfect for its meaning, then it gets lost, even reversed, in the
different setting, but we continue take them as if they hold one and
only one interpretation. And even worse, language, any nouns, are
nothing but a label, and people use and abuse these labels to achieve
their goals (politics comes to mind, which is notoriously prevalent in
labeling opponents as if the label itself represents an objective
opinion. Yet we all know there is not objectivity in this exercise at
all ← by logic, noun/label can only be a subjective opinion
because naming anything, anyone, is nothing but a human mind
activity — cloud is perfect fine on its own with or without a
name to it, and it certainly was never consulted whether it likes the
cloud, maybe it likes the name
So, where is the balance, if there is one at all!? We have to use a
language in life, but we are caught by this invention. Now with the
amass population of social media and mobile device, communication has
expanded in magnitude. So we see the phenomenon of all kinds of word
games, some funny, some outright ugly because they are a lie. See,
even while writing this, I have inevitably used the word
describe a concept I am thinking. Yet, there is nothing about this
word that holds a truth of any kind. Only because it has been learned
by million other English speakers so we are on the same page of what
it means. Martian might as well have called it truth, and confused
the hell out of all earth people.
Well, is it a concept in mind that drives the use of a label? Like the talk of dictator. I was trying to convey a concept of a type of person/behavior to Noah. So I guess the only solution is if one can transmit mind wave to another human being, somehow, and gets understood. No words required. But how do we verify even if this is possible? I mean, how do I know s/he gets the concept exactly as I transmitted? As an engineer I actually don't see a solution at all. Even in this scenario, we are implying that the two are both alive! The best value of literature is that thoughts/concepts can carry over time ← this makes it possible for human knowledge pool to increment.
But then, there is love, when two souls are indeed in sync, in a mysterious way, that no words are necessary, but they understand each other, feel each other, ALWAYS, on the same page. So there must be hope, of some kind. I guess for now, Noah, the word "dictator" is just bad. It's the concept that matters, not the definition.
Or, how about, music!?
— by Feng Xia