This project has been informed and inspired by two scholars, Owen Barfield and Russell Lockhart. Barfield was a pioneer in the study of the history of language who believed that language preserved the inner living history of man’s soul, and that by studying it, we could see the unfolding and evolution of our consciousness. Lockhart provided the apt metaphor in Words as Eggs (1983), pointing towards content hidden beneath a shell which had to be shattered so that it might be fully revealed and made useful.
That shell he sought to crack was etymology. That is its logic. More than a principle of order or knowledge, logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the internal consistency of the message and the clarity of its claim. For Lockhart, “This becomes even more meaningful when we realize that etmos means “truth.” The logos of etmos is thus, “truth speaking.”
Both men encouraged us to move beyond the dry literal meaning of words; to dig more deeply; to excavate the information and images buried within, and to connect with the word’s interiority, i.e. its imagination. All one had to do was follow the connections that arose spontaneously through the release of images into consciousness, which were easily recognizable by their having brought pleasure.
Neither a linguistic scholar nor a student of psychology, I am simply a lover of words who serendipitously chanced upon these two scholarly works in which I found the scaffolding for my passion. It was comforting, however, to know I was not alone – operating in the same spirit as the credentialed Barfield and Lockhart — rejecting the utilitarian path for one guided by curiosity and pleasure.