tools & machine parts

"Anyway," Rydra went on. "Babel-17 as a language contains a pre-set program for the Butcher to become a criminal and saboteur. If you turn somebody with no memory loose in a foreign country with only the words for tools and machine parts, don't be surprised if he ends up a mechanic. By manipulating his vocabulary properly, you could just as easily make him a sailor or an artist. Also, Babel-17 is such an exact analytical language, it almost assures you technical mastery of any situation you look at. And the lack of an 'I' blinds you to the fact that though it's a highly useful way to look at things, it isn't the only way."

"But you mean that this language could even turn you against the Alliance?" the General asked.

"Well," said Rydra, "to start off with, the word for Alliance in Babel-17 translates literally into English as: one-who-has-invaded. You take it for there. It has all sorts of little diabolisms programmed into it..."

(Delany 155)

inf(l)ection center Cyberspace Overview Critical Theorists

Inf(l)ections by Steve Cook