Lipton’s Journal/January 26, 1955/292
Now, back to 290. Something very difficult for me because I know so little about languages other than English, and one must know a language very well even to begin to do this since one must work almost entirely on intuition. But I do believe that the buried soul of man, the deeply suppressed has always expressed itself in language, and this simply, so simply that no one ever pays attention. What I have to say here is true only for English. Other languages would have vastly different relations to consonants and vowels to the sex-soul and to the bodily functions, but if I’m right at all in English, such work is for others in other languages. Anyway, I have already discussed the quality of ‘r’ which added to a work gives color, anger, movement, definition. For example ‘word’ without the ‘r’ is wod or what.
TH and D are related. D I believe has the connotations of death, TH the connotations of a thing, of Other-Life. For example It is the combination of I (my self, my being) with (thingishness). D and T A debt is a social death. TH and its relation to T I don’t feel yet.
But I’m starting in the middle. Let me begin with “I.” It is the center of the universe, the center of language, it is the eye, it is the mediator between the self and the world, for of all the senses the eye is the one which bears the most direct relation to the world. (I believe that a similar study in all languages would have to begin with the equivalent of I except for Japanese and other such languages in which the I is not part of speech.) I is the giver. Me is the taker. Dialogue: To whom do I give this. Answer: To me.
Let me go back a few lines for a clue. It possibly comes from Ich in German. The German I is less assertive than the Saxon I. It is Ich, and possibly the Saxons borrowed it from ich. Certainly Germans think of themselves (national character) more as (it)s than (I)s.
Back to I and Me. We also say May I take this? and the answer is “From me?” On the surface taking and giving are respectively I and Me. But, the I initiates the action, and by initiating, by creating, the I is giving. The Me nominally giving is actually being taken from. What I get from this is that givers take even as givers, and takers give even as takers which is why strong givers have anxiety about taking and vice versa.
Very interesting. I made an error above. I meant to say givers give even when they seem to be taking; takers take even when they see to be giving. I have a thing over this.
To continue: (despite all odds of my over-fecund brain) I believe intuitively that the rest of the vowels in English come from I. Eee we have already explored. It is buried in Me. It is the feminization, or better the feminine element in Me which contains both MMMMM (the grunt of the savage male) and EEEEEEEE (the delight of the female.) Ahhhhh, aaaaaaah, ohhhhhh, oooooooo, ehhhhhhhh, ihhhh (the ‘I’ sound of it or give.) ayyyyyy (as gave) and the last vowel is ‘u’ that is the sound of YOU.
Before we go any further I want to say that from my slight knowledge of other languages it is obvious to me that English (or Saxon—that is, English deprived of its Latinisms) is a very primitive language. It is exceptionally onomatopoetic, and therefore its spelling is so outrageous, for to conceal the obvious meanings of the sounds it was necessary that intelligent people, the very people who could go at the meanings should be led astray by the spellings. This is one source of outrageous spelling. The other is that words were undoubtedly combined and fused letters separated. For instance s I believe used to be written as f. The connection between fucking and the piss-shit axis had to broken.
To go on. The primitive like the baby beginning to speak must first have conceived of I, and Me (I’m not sure in which order) then You, then It (a great discovery for his environment because less dangerous ) then Give and Take, Take undoubtedly first from the point of the view of the baby, Give being the growing understanding of the world outside. One gives to locate the world which is why psychopaths are givers. One takes in order to understand the world.
- Mailer’s intuition that there was a simple, underlying basis for all language is borne out to some extent in the linguistic theories of Noam Chomsky, who believes that human ability to use syntax is innate, and that the structures of all languages vary only in surface peripherals or “externalization.” As Mailer says later on in Lipton’s (no. 395), “what I’m really trying to do . . . is psychoanalyze language.” See Tattersall, Ian (August 18, 2016). "At the Birth of Language". The New York Review. Retrieved 2021-03-19.