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Dilating Our Semantic World to Enrich Reality


Only by baptizing reality can man use it, converse with it. To choose what we name is to design the life we want to lead.

Proper names are poetry in the raw. 
Like all poetry they are untranslatable.

-W.H. Auden

To name the objects that inhabit and furnish our reality is to build the world. Things are there —there are the trees, the tintinnabulations, people—, however, if we do not name them they do not delimit each other; they remain in the background, indifferent, without a role in our personal inventory.

It’s not that words contain the things they name (“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet,” Juliet said), but a word is a precision that makes us revive things, bestow them with a body, fill them with blood and light.

Therefore, one of the ways of enriching the world is by naming (i.e. calling) those objects we know will reveal some aesthetic function for us. Perhaps knowing the names of the trees in our neighborhood will enlighten our strolls when we pass by them. Each one, with their proper name, will be a part of the world and of ourselves, and will ignite itself as if by naming it we were setting it on fire, conferring it life. The Liquidambar (Sweet gum) would resemble its name, and “thunder” would resemble lightning with its branches. What before used to be a tree is now a sabino or a weeping willow, and part of its fate would reveal itself to us, that we also carry a proper name that strips us and simultaneously hides us.

The illusion of reality is always referential, but the reference is never to an indifferent object, but to one that signifies. Words are not things and yet there is an equivalence between a nomenclature and a predicative series. In other words, by merely baptizing reality man can use it and dialogue with it. To choose, therefore, which things we want to name in order to see them fully when they stand before us is to enchant reality. Hence, to dilate our semantic world is to dilate our aesthetic and objectual world.


Winter Haiku

I didn’t know the names

of the flowers —now

my garden is gone.

-Allen Ginsberg

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