Poetry in the act of killing: the bloody origin of language and communication
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There is a common belief that war and violence hinder communication, and conversely, communication has the power to end wars and conflicts. This article challenges such logic and argues that human identity, language, meaning and communication have their origin in war, death and the spiritualisation of killing on the battlefield. Indeed, the assumption that acts of killing and warfare are formative of becoming human underlies much of the world’s cultures and the tradition of Western philosophical thought initiated by Heraclitus in ancient Greece. This article traces the way major Western social thinkers imagine war and killing as the foundation of poetic speech, and how face-to-face combat can be considered the primordial model for human dialogue, with death and killing the foundation for the construction of abstract concepts and meaning. The article also examines the way the ideas of war, killing and death are used in the broader discussion by Western social thinkers on the origin of language and meaning.