The Wordsmith

by waxnwings

As I continued along my path of no particular direction I came toward a lady selling symbols at an empty intersection. Pulling them one-by-one from a deep box at her side she set them individually upon the table before her. I am selling symbols, she told me, deliberately refraining from pursuing her offer further in the knowledge that today, as much as any other day that I had lived, I would need these symbols, lest I become mute. I was immediately attracted to the symbol first drawn from the box and placed closest to me at the forefront of the table. Not wishing to appear too eager, I off-handedly picked up the seemingly inanimate symbol and inspected it. And in that moment alone I felt its limitations and possibilities, its ephemeral fixity, saw both its tangible and abstract form. I brought it to my ear, shifted it in my hand and listened closely for oceans of meaning in which subject and object would swim.

But I heard nothing. I heard death.

This symbol is empty.

Of course it is empty, and she snatched the barren kernel from my hand. This symbol is a word. You have to fill it yourself, absorb it, understand it, invest in it, impregnate it with meaning and then speak it. But remember – you can never father its child. What is born of it can only ever be fostered, at best temporarily adopted. But it will never know your name and will never know you are its father, for it cannot be known and it cannot be fathered. You can give it, but you cannot possess it. You can implement it, but you cannot control it. Beware of how you use these word-symbols: I am The Wordsmith, and the I bring you dead symbols, words inert.


After listening to this death spoken by The Wordsmith, I placed the word-symbol back to its set. I looked upon the rest of her symbols and deliberately picked another. I filled it and set it into her hands. Wordsmith: you believe word-symbols are empty, but this is something you simply cannot speak. You believe meaning to be only temporary, but it is always present. You see Zeno’s arrow in its moments alone, as a series of singular, temporary points along its path; but you deny its origin and journey. Wordsmith: you are blind. You seek only to sell your symbols that they may be filled, yet you forget the form of their shape. You call to mind the pregnancy of meaning and try to speak of emptiness? You speak of an orphan, yet deny the investment of the father? You propose to strip bare the entire marvel of human language by belittling our words to nothing more than an empty husk?

Fool, she speaks. Fool for believing in meaning, fool for denying death of the author. You are a fool for you are duped by simulation, by the simulacrum. What you see is not meaning, what you speak is not truth but the reflection of your own conviction and absurdity. Yes. Yes, Wordsmith. And so, you have undone yourself. Because this is true. You claim words are inert because they can only ever be symbols of expression, but it is for this very reason that they are loaded beyond what this box of yours can hold: our reality is the symbol – there is nothing beyond but reference, and yet this is the substance of our meaning and truth, eternally ephemeral as it is fixed. With our language we are God, we made God in our image and in return He made us so. We created paradox.


The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none but truth of our own creation. The simulacrum is true.

And with these last words, I continued upon my path of no particular direction.


‘La Condition Humain’ – René Magritte (1933)

dir. ‘Inward Mornings’