But if in the Edenic scenario we acquired knowledge of the animals by naming them, it was not by virtue of any numinous immanence in the name but because Adam was a taxonomist. He distinguished the individual animals, discovered the concept of categories, and then organized the various species according to their different functions and relationships in the system. What the “naming” provides is structure, not individual words.
As Benjamin Lee Whorf has pointed out, “Every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which the personality not only communicates, but also analyses nature, notices or neglects types of relationship and phenomena, channels his reasoning, and builds the house of his consciousness.” In this same essay, apparently his last (written in 1941), titled “Language, Mind, Reality,” Whorf goes onto express what seem to be stirrings of a religious motivation: “What I have called patterns are basic in a really cosmic sense.” There is a “PREMONITION IN LANGUAGE of the unknown, vaster world.” The idea
is too drastic to be penned up in a catch phrase. I would rather leave it unnamed. It is the view that a noumenal world—a world of hyperspace, of higher dimensions—awaits discovery by all the sciences [linguistics being one of them] which it will unite and unify, awaits discovery under its first aspect of a realm of PATTERNED RELATIONS, inconceivably manifold and yet bearing a recognizable affinity to the rich and systematic organization of LANGUAGE.(17)
It is as if what I’ve been calling, from Faust, the “rage to know,” which is in some respects a libidinous drive, seeks also a redemptive value from language. Both are appropriate to the Faustian legend.
Coming in part out of Freudian psychoanalytic theory, especially in France, is a body of feminist thought that is even more explicit in its identification of language with power and knowledge—a power and knowledge that is political, psychological, and aesthetic—and that is a site specifically of desire. The project for these French feminist writers has been to direct their attention to “language and the unconscious, not as separate entities, but language as a passageway, and the only one, to the unconscious, to that which has been repressed and which would, if allowed to rise, disrupt the established symbolic order, what Jacques Lacan has dubbed the Law of the Father.”(18)
If the established symbolic order is the “Law of the Father,” and it is discovered to be not only repressive but false, distorted by the illogicality of bias, then the new symbolic order is to be a “woman's language,” corresponding to a woman’s desire.
Luce Irigaray writes:
But woman has sex organs just about everywhere. She experiences pleasure almost everywhere. Even without speaking of the hysterization of her entire body, one can say that the geography of her pleasure is much more diversified, more multiple in its differences, more complex, more subtle, than is imagined. . . . “She” is indefinitely other in herself. That is undoubtedly the reason she is called temperamental, incomprehensible, perturbed, capricious—not to mention her language in which “she” goes off in all directions.(19)
“A feminine textual body is recognized by the fact that it is always endless, without ending,” says Hélène Cixous: “There’s no closure, it doesn’t stop.”(20)