Our thoughts emanate from and exist within the framework of the language we use.
Warning: Spoiler Alert…
If you haven’t seen Arrival, I highly recommend it. While it’s not quite the supremely mind-blowing experience that The Matrix was (it’s more subtle and understated), in its own quiet way, it left me thinking for days afterwards.
**Seriously, I don’t want you to be mad at me. You have reached the spoiler event horizon. There is no turning back once you cross this paragraph boundary. Very well, let the spoiling begin!**
Arrival deals directly with the impact that language has on humanity. An advanced alien race arrives bearing a precious gift: their language. The reason it is a gift is that learning their language somehow frees humans from the confines of linear time, so that they are able to experience their lives in a non-linear fashion. It’s a very intriguing concept; even though it’s obviously fiction, I can definitely relate to the idea that language alters perception and thought.
**You are now leaving the Spoiler Zone.**
On a flight from Atlanta to New York a couple of years ago, I read one of the most fascinating, compelling, and chilling things I’ve ever read:
George Orwell’s Appendix to 1984, The Principles of Newspeak (link opens in a new window)
In short, the Appendix describes the effort to limit the population’s ability to think, question, and rebel, because Newspeak has been intentionally stripped of any tools or concepts that provide for the expression of such ideas.
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc [English Socialism], but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. … To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. … Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought…
It is a brilliant, prescient piece of work. You owe it to yourself to read it in its entirety. Again, this is a work of fiction, but the message is clear. Our language is the framework for our thoughts. In fact, I would assert that Political Correctness has been a step in the direction of Newspeak, and we can see the effect it is having on our society. Consider college campuses, where students of the PC generation need “safe spaces” where they don’t have to be confronted by opposing opinions or where they shout down speakers who challenge their worldview. Could The Declaration of Independence have been written in the world of Newspeak? George Orwell states in his Appendix that it could not. The framework of the language, by design, has no ability to support that depth of thought or such radical notions.
How is your language coloring your own life without you being aware of it? Could you incorporate more powerful, nuanced, elevating language and thereby, thought, into your everyday endeavors? How might your outcomes improve as a result? Does your internal and external language allow lofty ideals and achievements to exist and flourish?
Bringing this back to trading and investing, what assumptions or “common knowledge” have you unquestioningly accepted as fact which, like Newspeak, keeps you an unwitting prisoner of your own beliefs? Does the idea of trading without a stop loss offend your sensibilities? Is that crazy talk?! Or might it be that you are a victim of the paradigm you cling to, and that if you could find the mental flexibility to let it go, you would be set free?