“”Words are not the things they name”

“Words are not the things they name: they are the bridges we extend between things and ourselves. The poet is the conscience of the words, that is, the nostalgia for the actual reality of things. True, words were also things before they were the names of things. They were things in the myth of the innocent poet, that is, before language, the glimpsed paradisal accord. Innocent speech: silence in which nothing is said because everything is said, everything is saying itself. The poet’s language feeds upon that silence which is innocent speech.”

Octavio Paz, Unknown to Himself

6 thoughts on ““”Words are not the things they name”

  1. This reminds me of a conversation/interview I had with the Russian author Sergey Lebedev. I asked him about his Russian poetic influences and he praised Brodsky for his use of words which restored meaning to their pre-Soviet days. He said that the Soviets had taken over so many words in the language and distorted them and watered them down but Brodsky gave him back the original meanings which for him had a greater depth. Interesting as well since Paz himself wrote against totalitarianism with an emphasis on Stalin.

    Are you reading any Paz or was this quoted by Pessoa?

  2. Pingback: Words are not the things they name | synthetic zero

  3. How utterly transcendent. I would say that words always and entirely conform to the objects they name, but it is in denial if this fact that we find reality.

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