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PRINT April 1982

MARKS: CY TWOMBLY

Tanzt die Orange! (Dance the Orange!)

—Rainer Maria Rilke

IS IT POSSIBLE to make a sign, a symbol, a gesture that cannot be transformed into words? Could it be true, recalling one of Karl Kraus’ witty epigrams, that language is the mother of thought? But imagine George Balanchine muttering impatiently, “Why should I bother to compose a ballet for dancers if I can ‘say’ the whole thing in words?” Most other artists would join him in agreement. They would be right in suspecting so shallow an interpretation of the science of linguistics.

We have come far since the first insights of Ferdinand de Saussure. His Cours de linguistique générale, a compilation of many years of lectures at the Université de Genève which was published three years after his death in 1913, became the starting point of 20th century linguistics. It was Saussure who was among the first to find connections in the shaping

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