Chapter 24: Saying Small Things with Big Words
It happened while Hegel, the great German philosopher, was alive. Nobody understood him or what he was talking about - and I am absolutely certain that he did not understand either. But he was very clever to use long words, one word almost filling the whole line - even to read it is difficult - one sentence filling the whole page. By the time you reach the end you have forgotten from where you had begun. And because nobody understood him, naturally, he must be great.
This is a simple logic that has prevailed in the world: if you want to be praised by people don’t be understood by them. Don’t speak in simple, direct, immediately-understood language; use such words that a person has to consult the dictionary ten times at least for every page. Finally he drops the idea of understanding; he knows you are great.
What is “environmental phenomena”?
This rain, these clouds, these winds - these are environmental phenomena. But if you say, “Rains, clouds, rivers, oceans.” you cannot become a great philosopher.
Philosophy has its own language. Only other philosophers understand it. In fact, nobody knows whether anybody understands it or not. Hegel remained for almost a hundred years the greatest philosopher in the world, just because he was not understood. Then researchers did great digging and found that there is nothing in it; the man was just hocus pocus. He was just clever in using big words where they were not needed.
In my village, there used to be a brahmin. He was a crackpot. Crackpots are very unique people. He had never been to the university but he could defeat any university professor with his language. All he had done was, he had learned by rote the whole Oxford Dictionary - without bothering about what the meaning of the word was - and his only job was writing ten-page, twenty-page letters to the prime minister, to the president. Of course, nobody answered because nobody could understand: “What is he.?” And he was very angry.
I said, “You do one thing: you write the whole letter and then a small summary of it, attached to it, so that the addressed person can understand the summary. And if he feels like going ahead, he can read the thirty pages.”
He said, “That is very difficult.”
I said, “What is the difficulty?”
He said, “I myself don’t understand what I am writing! I am just like a parrot. Thinking that English is the international language, I have crammed the whole Oxford Dictionary. I don’t know what it means. I can manage to make sentences without knowing the meaning of them. But I use big words.”
He used to torture professors, principals, because his whole language was simply gibberish. He did not know what he was saying.