In the beginning, there was light and dark. In the light, we saw things, and remembered them, to give us comfort in the dark.
We dipped into the blood, and drew our memories on walls, so that when we died, others would remember them without having to see them.
Warnings against danger. Knowledge of when to plant. How to get back home. What to eat. When to run.
When the pictures couldn't convey our thoughts, we tried to say them. We hummed and grunted, we strung sounds into meanings. There were names given, and taken away. We remembered lines of noise to give our children at night, and our children remembered them to their children. Things we tried to say became songs, or threats, or stories.
Those sounds became solidified into letters, someone wrote them down once, combining the picture magic and the sound magic. The most powerful magic of all, the word magic. The magic that sticks around, that is recorded and referenced and stolen. The magic that gives you judgment, and influence. The power to create, to condemn and bless. Every one of us learned the magic, some better than others. We trained the fingers of babes, to become a nation of language.
We learned from the beginners and created more magic. Identifying ourselves. Identifying things and places and actions. It became a world of names, categorized into proper grammar and legislation and history. We learned to possess the world. It was beautiful in the first stages. We were graceful and powerful. There were storytellers.
But the word magic became aggressive. We labeled it all, the lands and the actions, they became countries and territories, specialized fields of power only select could enter, skills that defined our lives . We worked harder to be remembered. Be in control. Choose your definition. Have a label, or you are nothing. Create it, or you are nothing. Say it properly, or it doesn't exist.
We fought each other for the history, for the things we had identified, for the ideas we had made concrete with noun. My noun is better than your noun.
All this identity crowded around, pushing and grabbing the globe. Belong to the group with the same words as you, repeat those words again and again until they become action, and action becomes war, and war becomes empires, wins, sacrifices. We won and we lost, and the beginning people died with their inferior magic. Soo there were no more things to be said, it had all been uttered. The words then used us for interpretation, to add to themselves. They made us fight over the specifics, and in the fighting, one by one, we were pushed to the side by the greater power. The machine that swept across our world coagulating names items things into a vast tome of meaning, growing bigger and hungrier. Numerical bits in the hurling unfurling of the Collection, a magic that no longer needed our effort to grow, but instead fed itself without reason.
Almost as quickly as we invented it, we lost control of it. Suddenly, it was no longer our thoughts that mattered, but only the words themselves. We lost our names. Everything became a well worded mess, an eternal argument. Semantic invasion. Domination by definition.
Some people abandoned the words, to try and feel something besides their label, to be something beyond a definition. We knew we were dying, so we tried to find immortality in the old magics again. Only we had no blood, so we used manufactured dyes. It was only half of what we had known before, but we tried. It didn't stop the chaos. Being weaker than the Collection, it only served to feed what little power we conjured into more words, more analysis and review and tearing part of the spell at the seams. People were too busy struggling to stay on top of the words to look or listen. They wouldn't shut up.
Now we look again to the light and the dark, to try and understand the old fear of things we did not understand, the things that made us shiver. We try to use the words against the words themselves. It suddenly seems worse to know everything. It doesn't seem to fix anything. Taking away the Fear only made it necessary to create new ones.
The one word we failed to learn was .
More pictures here.