Sunday, November 04, 2012

Piling on the Adjectives

I am always amused by the rhetorical methods of people trying to explain a questionable, fuzzy, vague or specious concept.  They like to "pile on adjectives" or have a "capitalization frenzy" to try to make the concepts more sensible, viable, palatable or understandable. 

Take, for example, the words 'conscious' or 'consciousness.'  My ordinary understanding of these terms is sufficient for daily discourse.  People who are conscious are awake, responsive, breathing, likely speaking, aware of the world around them through their senses, moving around, working, etc.  Even animals can be conscious in many of these ways.  People who are asleep, in a coma, or dead do not exhibit many or all of these attributes of consciousness.  This rough and ready working knowledge of these words gets us by in daily life.  Professional psychologists, psychiatrists, brain researchers, lawyers, and philosophers also use these terms in highly specialized ways and need to write long, detailed, and careful discourses to explain and justify their unique usage of the terms. 

Amateur theologians and philosophers are prone to play other language games when speaking or writing. 

First, they like to capitalize the terms when writing, e.g., 'Conscious' or 'Consciousness.'  This makes the terms seem more important, special, precious, exalted, profound, serious, or meaningful.  Examples:  "Everything is Consciousness."  "Shiva is Consciousness."  "God is Good."  "I am That."  "There is One God."  "Everything is One."  "Allah is Everywhere."  Talking of gods or goddesses is not sufficient or impious when writing; we need to up the ante, to satisfy devoted monotheists, and write only about 'God', the 'One God.' 

Second, they like to pile on adjectives before the term under discussion.  This seems to help them make the vague and obscure terms seem glorified, understandable, reasonable, vivid, exciting, meaningful, viable, truthful, etc.  For example, "Shiva is Pure Consciousness" or "God has Eternal Consciousness."  The adjectives multiply and flourish the more they talk: True Consciousness, Blissful Consciousness, Pure Consciousness, Divine Consciousness, Supreme Consciousness, Everlasting Consciousness, Revealed Consciousness, Omniscient Consciousness, Onmipotent Consciousness, Non-Material Consciousness, Illuminated Consciousness, Non-Human Consciousness, Spiritual Consciousness, Astral Consciousness, Non-Dual Consciousness, God Consciousness, etc.  You get the idea. 

Ordinary folks are sometimes conscious of having blissful and wonderful experiences, but adept yogis are liberated from ordinary realms of experience and become One through the Divine Grace of True and Blissful Consciousness.  Adepts, masters and gurus have expanded consciousness, profound consciousness, liberated consciousness, holy consciousness, enlightened consciousness, deepened consciousness, godlike consciousness, purified consciousness, exalted consciousness, saintly consciousness, etc.  I'm not so impressed, but probably because of my impure, ignorant, worldly and unworthy consciousness. 

I patiently smile when someone begins piling on the adjectives, capitalizing terms, and exuberantly preaching.  I enjoy their optimism and poetic enthusiasm, mostly harmless, and go with the flow.  Imaginary realms are fun.  Pretending can be delightful.  Poetry is charming and sometimes inspirational.  Fictions are creative joys and a source of unending interest.  Stories about the many goddesses or gods are so varied and fascinating.  At another level, when it comes to judging the truthfulness of their claims, I begin to squirm in my seat and want to get outdoors for some fresh air.    

No comments:

Post a Comment