Our stream of consciousness consists of a constant cascade of sensory appearances, each different than the last and marching forward in time. How, then, do we call one sensory appearance by the same name as another? From where do we derive our meaning? With nothing but a temporal sequence of perceptions presenting themselves to us one at a time and in uninterrupted flow, how are we to claim, for example, that sensation X is “the same as” sensation Y, but “different than” sensation Z, when it’s clear from the most unprejudiced analysis that all three of these sensory impressions are themselves distinct entities? By what justification do we ignore certain differences as irrelevant, while fixating our attention on particular variations as constituting a complete change in the meaning of the sensory appearance?
A few years ago, I took up academics quite suddenly. At first, it was just a hobby. I met someone who had a journal written in J. R. R. Tolkien’s script Tengwar. It was English words, but a different writing system. I thought this was really interesting. Not only was it a beautiful script, but I was also fascinated by the idea that he was writing in a code. He could read his writing, but most people couldn’t. His personal diary was more private than the average individual’s. The barrier to reading it was higher than simply picking it up when he wasn’t looking.