February 1, 2016


Lost for words

When you speak multiple languages, you know that certain words simply cannot be translated. Sometimes, you are lost for words. For example, I live in Amsterdam and the word “gezellig” has no equivalent in any other language. Its meaning includes everything from cosy to friendly, from comfortable to relaxing, and from enjoyable to gregarious.

Every language has so its particularities and it is a enjoyable way to learn other languages and cultures (gezellig!). However, it also hints to a very serious and complete overlooked problem in our world.

Render me speechless

Every language consists of words. These words are used to identify and classify objects, verbs, feelings, concepts, structures, entities etcetera. The taxonomy of a language determines what something is, and what something isn’t.

It is based on a system of inclusion and exclusion. This system has worked really well and helped us to communicate for the past millennia. The creation of every word was nothing more than a simple decision, made by just a few people in the past. Certainly some good logic was used in making the distinction and classification of every word, but overall it was just a decision for practical purposes: a convention to help us communicate with each other effectively. Our communication has subsequently shaped our thinking.

Lost for words

All these small decisions together have created our languages, and subsequently, far more important, our reality. And this is exactly where, in my opinion, the problem lies.

In the past, our reality was defined by the words of our leaders: people that had a certain authority over us and were able to tell us what the truth was, what was right, what was wrong. The priest or vicar gave us the truth on ethics, the police officer gave us the truth of the law, the medical doctor gave us the truth of our health and the political leaders gave us truth of the national and international state of affairs.

The internet has nowadays rapidly eroded these authoritative roles. So much more information is available. Resources are abundant. And although this is fantastic progress in the history of human kind, the truth seems to be further away as ever before.

For every statement made by anyone, the internet provides us with data and information to counter that statement. Take for example, a simple question as “Is drinking red wine good for you?” You will find many scientific articles with answers, but no one truth. Compelling arguments, from every possible angle and perspective, give a very convoluted and contradictory reality. It makes it very difficult to make the right decision.

End of an era

We have come to an era where we have reached the limits of our words. Our words, the classification of what is and what isn’t, don’t suffice anymore to provide us with answers. The system of inclusion and exclusion is outdated. The abundance of available and accessible information makes us realise that our words can no longer help us. Our understanding of truth or reality is far more complex and cannot by dealt with our current taxonomy of words.

We need to transcend to a new way of thinking. A thinking that surpasses the classification of what is and what isn’t. We need to allow ambiguity. Ambiguity is the key to break free form this prison of words. If you look at nature, at life, at the world at large, you will see that everything is composed of contradictions.

Accepting the ambiguity of things will lead to thinking in more dimensions. Only then are we able to transcend to a world in which contradicting information can indeed co-exist. That is the world of the future.

A new future

Our current laws of physics do not apply on an atomic level. These same laws neither work on a cosmic level. The only way that this could be made possible is by introducing (yet) another dimension. Even if this new dimension is something we don’t fully comprehend yet, it gives a framework for a larger truth.

We cannot solve today’s problems anymore. We are locked into the reality that our words have created. But we can transcend today’s problems. By adding new dimensions, the opposing forces of our problems become irrelevant. Only this way we really change our reality… and then we are able to accelerate our comprehension of the possibilities that space offers.

Photo: Valentina Degiorgis


ambiguity, lost for words, speechless, words don't suffice

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  1. Hi Bertil,

    wellicht zijn we inderdaad aan het einde van ons huidige wetenschappelijke model van de wereld.
    Wat is waar? 100-duizenden wetenschappers zijn verder aan het zoeken in ons huidige model en zijn daar hun gehele leven mee bezig. Wellicht niet zo slim om teveel van je tijd dus daar als individu aan te besteden.
    Wel slim om in te gaan zien dat – bijvoorbeeld – juist die ambiguïteit overal op gaat. Oordelen is dus niet erg zinvol.
    Vandaar lijkt mij dat het goed is om in je leven te blijven kijken, vergelijken en denken hoe jij het ziet, zonder dus een oordeel te hoeven vellen. Zo blijft het leven een wonderlijke ontdekking en gebeuren er dus veel mooie dingen. Geniet daarvan.

    Kortom, drink een kop koffie met vrienden, zet een leuke boom op en maak het gezellig.
    De werkelijke vraag is wat dit alles met jou doet.
    groet Alexander

    1. Hi Alexander

      (I hope you don’t mind I reply in English, for the non-Dutch readers)
      Thanks so much for your reply and great to hear from you. Great insights and inspires me to write an article about the points you raise.

      Just to clarify – I am not challenging science, quite the contrary. I see it as a source of inspiration to solve non-science / societal problems. When scientists discover two conflicting scientific facts, they realise that these truths can only co-exist if there is another unknown or undefined dimension. My article is basically stating that in society too we perhaps need to add another dimension, to overcome conflicting ‘truths’.

      Fully agree with your point to keep looking, comparing and thinking without judgement… and to fully enjoy life!


  2. Bertil,
    oops, apologies for writing in dutch.
    Reading your blog again, provides me with yet another point of view.
    It poses me the question whether we will one day be able to fully capture our experience or thoughts in words.
    Perhaps part of the answer lies in the combination of words and personal experience.
    Compare for instance the difficulty of text messages and its interpretation. Or in the case of a story on innovations, we often find it hard to understand since we have not experienced it ourselves.
    The value of experience is more than just the observation or rational sensitivity. This however might just move your blog too far away.
    Regards, ALX

    I believe that most interesting remains the way each of us interprets what is written and its value

    1. Hi Alexander

      Thanks again! I fully agree with what you say, except for this line: “This however might just move your blog too far away.” 🙂 Nope, it is very much what I (am trying to) say, but indeed I struggle, as much as others, with the limitations that words have. (The irony of writing a blog post called ‘Lost for Words’)

      I believe that experiences and other non-rational sensitivities should play a more significant and prominent role in decision making of individuals. In the end, every interpretation is a personal one and creates a ‘local truth’. When ‘local truths’ are created, the generated ambiguity between different views (and its acceptance!) could surpass the limitations of our words.

      I hope that this creates the insight that many of the challenges we face today are merely caused by systems that we have created (and exist only) in our mind.


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