The subjunctive mood is where we can imagine and articulate possibilities. It is how we can think and express other worlds, other systems, other politics, other structures. It is the part of language devoted to speaking our desires, wishes and dreams as things in themselves.
A language strong in subjunctive mood permits exchanges about experiences such as serendipity, intuition and premonition without slaughtering the experience through explanation and rationalisation. A complex subjunctive mood language creates a world before the corruptions of the -ologies (psychology, sociology and so forth). Yet, while the subjunctive mood is a frequent state in our actual living, it is not well tolerated when we write prose and fiction in English.
This is a problem.
We are living, and we are being, yet we have let our language slip and harden into structures of fact and reason. We have fixed ourselves to what is, not what can be.
On 19 September falls ‘Talk Like a Pirate’ day. Around the world women and men resurrect the world of Treasure Island in their everyday observations and conversations. Perhaps, in years to come, we will celebrate ‘Talk in the Subjunctive Mood’ day.