“A language,” says Noam Chomsky, “is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is.” Without language there is no society. Language is like an archive or an archeological site. Within it, historians, linguists, anthropologists, and philologists can find traces of all the different cultures and societies that spoke it. For Lacan, the structure of our psyche works like a language; the words in our dreams or those which we utter unthinkingly reveal the coded messages of our unconscious. There are other languages besides the spoken and written word—systems that allow us to communicate in alternative and perhaps more subtle ways—such as music, which is codified in musical notes and represented in sheets of music, or the gestural expressions we share with primates and which our genes have carried since time immemorial. This edition is dedicated to languages, not only human, but also those of other beings who inhabit the planet. In “Where Music Thinks,” the musicologist Jazmín Rincón explains this system, so conducive to connecting with our emotions, while Paulina Deschamps describes the latest discoveries made by biologists in plant communication. Jorge Comensal relates his experience as a beekeeper and all he learned about the Tanzsprache of bees, the means by which these insects communicate exact locations and quantities of pollen. Fernanda Pérez Gay and Manuel Hernández explore the human mind and its relationship with language: the former writes from a neuroscientific perspective, and the latter explains Lacanian theory with delicious simplicity. The fragment from Ted Chiang’s novella “Story of your life” imagines a non-consecutive extraterrestrial language, the significance of which stems from its performative function. One year after the birth of her child, Jazmina Barrera establishes an inventory of Silvestre’s first words and traces the way in which his vocabulary began to develop. The visual poems created by Ulises Carrión and Mirtha Dermisache demonstrate that poetry exists beyond, or independently from, words, while in her graphic novel Chiara Carrer explores a language based on an abstract code (made up mostly of lines and dots without figurative images) in such a way that the reader, disconcerted, is left wondering: how do we understand it and what makes it so captivating? Language, Chomsky reminds us, can be used to transmit information, but it also serves different ends, such as the establishment of relationships between people, the expression and clarification of thought, play, creation, and the achievement of understanding. The use of language has many consequences, and it requires not only skill, but responsibility. Languages are instruments of power: those who possess them expand their sphere of influence; and at the same time, the acquisition of new languages lends power and precision to our thoughts. Enunciating, whether in words or otherwise, amounts to creating the world. To shaping reality.
Imagen de portada: Elsa-Louise Manceaux, sin título, instalación de 40 dibujos individuales, 2016. Cortesía de la artista