Words, words, creators of worlds!
The page, the page, it defines us still.
Words that build and words that break.

Funny things these are,
these scribbles of language.
The texts of life that we’re measured by.

Words of gods and words of mortals,
which prescribe action and belief,
law and custom, right and wrong.

Texts past and new, forever and ever,
defining and redefining,
are inscribed on the old and the young.

We’re never far from their grasp,
overreaching and limiting,
textual prisons of no escape.

We are finite but words live forever.
Each one a carefully constructed text,
each one a new world!

But not every world would you wish to live,
to dwell, to visit.
Worlds of malice.

They’re foundations built with evil intent.
Some carelessly so,
others intentionally.

Privileged and careless authors,
their creations assault using page and screen.
Spurred on by “freedom,” free words imprison.

Words that haunt,
texts that provoke,
pages that bind.

Referenced by, referred to, referencing still,
cycles of injustice
inscribed forever in the annals of history.

According to words from long ago,
“Write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in book,
that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.”[1]

Good words and bad,
ones that help and harm,
determined by the compositions of others.

Social injustice, inequality, racism, hatred,
all birthed from the human soul.
Such things persist still.

Textual creations of hatred living forever,
recreated digitally on web pages,
fostering worlds of bigotry and prejudice.

“Il n’y a pas de hors-texte.”[2]
No outside-text, outside the text, nothing.
Oh to be free from the chains of textuality!

And yet, the responsibility is ours,
in every word we write, every post we share,
every text we compose.

Language simultaneously burden and gift,
calls us to endless responsibility,
awareness of the infinity of reference.

Nothing is outside of reference.
Who does this text refer to?
To them, to me, even to you.

All experience is built upon language,
mine, yours, ours.
Words to describe, to instruct, to harm.

We are responsible for our words,
and they to us.
The texts we create go beyond us.

Works without authors,
released from our hands to inflict or care,
shackle or release, oppress or liberate?

Monsters of reference, beasts of the page!
To write without responsibility, without care,
is monstrous.


[1] Isaiah 30:8 (ESV)

[2] Derrida, Of Grammatology (Johns Hopkins University Press,1997), 158. Translation: “There is no outside-text” or “There is nothing outside the text.”

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s