The Sequelae

Growing up, my mother had a strict vigilance over anything I read, watched, or played. I wasn’t so aware of it then, but it is true, in retrospect, that I was not exposed to many things a child would have naturally encountered in the US.

Whether it was due to my temperament or this specific, narrow-sighted upbringing, I didn’t really question things as a child, especially when related to social customs, slang, and ridicule of behavior. As a teenager, I didn’t seek out the taboos as most of my peers did and felt underwhelmed when they explained “risque” things to myself, thinking something along the lines of, “well, if you knew it, why are you still so stunned? Calm down, it’s annoying to pretend to be like you when you’re like this.”

This might have also been attributed to the Catholic-Christian household I was raised in (my parents were devout “love thy neighbor” Catholic-Christians, kill-em-with-kindness philosophy). Abstinence, obedience, and spiritual devotion was huge in our family, and so if my parents weren’t talking about the same things as the kids at school, I didn’t really care.

However, on the inverse side of things, if my parents or relatives showed any interest in any subject, I would also slowly become obsessed. I would think — in some heavily veiled thoughts — “this is what they like, if I excel in it, they will be happy”.

Now, I won’t be diving into the convoluted psychology of that anecdote today. What I am more interested in discussing is how this sort of behavior and mindset was conceived through the the virtual surroundings of words.

Whenever my mother prohibited me from watching online content (creators such as VanossGaming or Filthy Frank), she would tell me, “what you watch is like food; what you eat becomes a part of you. It builds up.” As it happens, VanossGaming and Filthy Frank were heavy on edgy humor and explicit innuendos, and I could see what she meant after spending a few days thinking about it on my own. Especially because I didn’t understand what I was saying, she didn’t want me to replicate their speech or behavior and grow up uncontrollably within this one-dimensional personality(that was how I interpreted her saying anyway).

So, I took to the internet to educate myself on what they were saying so that I could watch them (I also got better at hiding what I watched).

With the knowledge and direct definitions and cultural context of the words they were using, I watched them in secret and spent more time trying to deconstruct their language and jokes. After all, from the definitions I gathered, what they said was often offensive and vulgar, which in my head meant that they shouldn’t be funny at all. And yet, I was laughing; they were laughing too.

Yes, even after learning the definitions and trying to understand where the offensiveness came from, I was laughing. There was even a greater sense of hilarity after I deliberately found the definitions.

However, because I knew what was offensive about these jokes, I didn’t share them. Further spurned by my mother’s vigilant care, I didn’t dare to talk about this curiosity.

Quite honestly, I don’t know how to relate these stories to the topic I have today, but these were what came up when I tried to think of deconstructed examples of this vague concept of word sequelae.

Word sequelae is the unintentional and often unobserved consequences of using words to translate thoughts. A rough example of word sequelae can be observed as miscommunication between two parties, or a mistranslation in a word from a different language that has more cultural context in its use than definitive.

For example, “666” is a christian code word that was used in reference to the Roman emperor Nero, who persecuted christians and was considered a devil because of it (ergo, the devil’s number); “666” is also a Chinese internet slang used to label something as cool or impressive due to its pronunciation being a homophone for such (it is quicker to spam 666, thus, a slang term). Of course, “666” also means six-hundred-sixty-six as a numerical value.

But when you see “666”, what do you think? Especially now with this assumedly new information, what will you think? If the first thought is the programmed response, is the second thought really your true thoughts?

That might be a misnomer, actually: immediate reactions to symbols aren’t really thoughts, but instead refreshers of memory that the brain is trying to recall. Thoughts are pondered after exiting the sphere of recall, where the information that was recovered is dissected in a more conscious light. But how is this dissection done? You who speak one language, do you know what you are thinking?

You who speak two languages, can you really communicate what you are thinking?

Yes, how can you know what you are thinking? This is fundamentally tied to language, one’s comprehension of their language(s), and one’s accommodation towards intuitive thought. All words are thoughts, but not all thoughts are words. Because words and languages are limited, so too are one’s thoughts and comprehension of the world and oneself.

But without the passage of words, thoughts are also limited by intuition, which are difficult to solidify. Intuition is not as tangible as words, for intuition is fluid, personally tailored for each person that receives it and each situation it is summoned in. There’s no indication of what intuition is without being in the zone of accepting intuition.

Anyways, that sort of represents my confusion when it comes to the relationship between thoughts and words. The consequent theory of word sequelae that I came up with is somewhat imbued in this sentiment.

If our thoughts are words, it is possible that we are not fully capable of thinking (with words). For even within the neutral word, there are biases within that do not stem from natural selves, either incited by a common society or etymological intrigues.

“That is 666”

Would I think the above because I was reminded by the devil? Is the subject related to demonic themes?

Would I think the above because I found the subject to be cool? Or was I reminded of the phrase 666 and thought that it was appropriate for this situation, not really believing that the situation was cool, but rather that it may be represented by 666?

No, at this point, I am looking at 666 with the wrong lense. All I have brought up so far (for I hardly ever prove anything in my thoughts or in my writing) is that there is a high reliance on memory recall when interacting with our world that can be exemplified in our language of slang and symbols. That simply urges a different desire to explore whether this can be considered the virtual surrounding of words in our world, but it does not entirely pertain to word sequelae.

Word sequelae is what happens when all your thoughts are words. Your thoughts begin to be led by words, and misinformation is more easily perpetuated due to the inherent biases of words. Preconceptions become thoughts. Thoughts incubate and solidify. At that point, it is reality.

Then, pray tell, what is truth? What is thought? How can one be sober when in a sea of words? Or could it be that this is true sobriety, a drunkenness on believing that this world presented is false? Should I always question myself and my past to fulfill my searches of nothings?

Is that it? Could it be that I’ve never been looking for answers, but instead a reason to question?

If so, it’s rather boring. I’d rather return to having no purpose than to be led by the nose like this.

Or is it boring? Aren’t I having fun? Aren’t I occupied with these words of mine, recorded here, and made reality?

Alright, I guess I do like to question and hate to be answered. The truth is that it is no fun to be given direction, nor is it fun to be told that there is an answer.

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