William Segal

Gurdjieff International Review

In Light of Meaning

An Interview with William Segal

by David Appelbaum


There was a question on my mind when I went to see William Segal: why is it that language helps us to concentrate on ourselves?

DAVID APPELBAUM: What beckons you to study human speech?

WILLIAM SEGAL: For me there are two aspects which are most interesting. The first is the power of the word when it is based on a special and mysterious energy which initially gave rise to the word. One says something, and, depending on the energy behind it, the word or sentence arouses or fails to evoke a corresponding energy in the listener. We all know that the same idea in the same words expressed by different people can have quite different impact. Searching for the key to this, it seems that the most important influence behind language is invisible, an invisible energy. From that point of view, a word or a sentence, when spoken with attention, is charged with a special energy. Energy follows attention—where I put my attention there follows a flow of force—and where there’s an inner presence accompanying what is expressed, power is added to whatever is spoken.

The other aspect which is interesting is the unique human capacity to poetize language. Why does one combination of words make impact, stir interest or movement, while the same words in different combination fall flat? Poetry plays with words, makes them reverberate.…

[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]
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