Language: John Zerzan on George Bradford on John Zerzan (1984)

Language I

Dear FE,

Neither the simple abuse by Ratticus nor the extended commentary by George Bradford seemed to me to engage the two most basic points or arguments of “Language: Origin and Meaning” (Winter ’84), namely that language is the model of ideology and that it derives from earliest division of labor. Thus they rejected the piece while failing to deal with the essentials referred to by its title, an odd tack possibly reflecting on my craftsmanship as its author.

To evoke the world as it encountered what are perhaps the original viruses of alienation (time, language) and to ask whether they are inevitable is to wonder whether we can supersede a condition in which anguish and repression have been with us so very long.

The old question, ‘where did we go wrong?’ challenges us to aim our critical inquiry far enough back, into prehistory. If part of the progression is something like time, language, art, myth, religion, private property, the state, can we refuse only the latter two or three of these inventions and find this adequate to solve the long, deepening neurosis called civilization?

The madness of today and our desperation within it may be helping us to see how profound the sickness has been, the easier perhaps to raise questions as to how deep the healing must go.

John Zerzan,
Eugene, OR

= = =

letter to Fifth Estate #316 (v19, #1), spring 1984, p 2.

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