Thursday, July 23, 2020

Winged Words

As the Monad does not go beyond its own definition but remains One once for all (which is why it is called 'Monad'), whereas the Dyad is an indefinite principle of diversity (for it immediately loses its identity by turning into plurality by the process of doubling), so a word that rests with its first possessor remains truly secret, but once it passes to another, it becomes common talk. Homer speaks of 'winged words': it is hard to catch such a creature with wings once you let it out of your hands, and impossible to grasp and control a word that you have let slip from your lips; it 'arches its swift wings' and is off, spreading from one group of people to another.

Plutarch, "Talkativeness", from Selected Essays and Dialogues, Russell, tr., Oxford UP (New York: 1993) p. 213.