Jacques Ellul (1912-1994)

"The written word is just a mummy whose wrappings must be removed some day—not to discover a few boxes, but to breathe life into it again. . . . Written language has closed the mind. Like a fist grasping a diamond, it has closed its grammatical and structural trap over a vanishing whisper that it tries to translate through enclosing and containment. But instead, writing snuffs it out, and we must open the straitjacket of writing so that it becomes a freshly spoken word. That way the whisper can be perceived and received again. Then the word can start the listener off anew in his quest for truth."

"The invasion of the verbal realm by images results in role reversal and domination, leading us to another characteristic of our modern reality: the humiliation of the Word."

"We have an excess of talk devoid of meaning and veracity. We are satiated with electoral and political speeches (which we are sure say absolutely nothing), with false conversations, and with books paid by the word (some find it necessary to write, and so become writers by trade!). In spite of the lack of anything to say, the speaker continues as if he were a word-mill moved by the wind, and he becomes responsible for the fact that no one can any longer take any word seriously. No word can be taken seriously, because the rush of these words prevents us from discovering the one which, in the midst of the torrent, has meaning and deserves to be listened to . . . we have a wasteland of empty verbiage . . . an excess of information broadcast everywhere about everything, so that its quality is utterly destroyed. We are overwhelmed by a jumble of information. . . ."

"The rupture between the speaker and his words is the decisive break. If a person is not behind his word, it is a mere noise. . . . In the Bible the word is an integral part of the person. It is true if the person is true. Jesus' words have no value of importance whatever if they are separated from the person of Jesus. In him there is perfect unity of life, action, word, relationship, and knowledge. The current rupture between the speaker and the word strips the word, but soon it takes on value again . . . from something nonhuman, so that this value will be related to reason, science, some opinion, a social tendency, or a concept of beauty or truth. A concept rather than the beauty of an experience lived in harmony with itself, or the truth of a person's unity. Once related only to a concept, the word is at the mercy of all sorts of winds and changes; it loses all weight and meaning. It becomes an instrument, to be manipulated. It does not commit anyone to anything.