marți, 27 mai 2008

Language as passion

Language is magic.
Every day, we humans use symbols to translate our feelings, to convey information about the past and present, and to apply our designs to the body of creation. We call these symbols words, transmitting them to different locations in the brain (thinking), converting them to sounds and gestures (talking), even arranging them into the marks or bits of an alphabetic media (writing). Language is the essence of human expression and cultural heritage. And it is my truest love.

Language plays music in my head all day long and most of the night, a continuous background dreamy thing. I love the cadence, the inflections, the tones, and most especially the nuances found in both the precision and the imperfection of meaning. (Can there ever be a word that truly expresses riding a bicycle downhill?) I love that this bewitching ability to characterize our perceptions provides a channel for interacting with the substance of the world. We reveal ourselves through language. The world appears to us in the translation.

waxing poetic
Ah, then comes poetry. Poetry is a special language. Poets scramble the words until they are condensed, sensual, and figurative and soon enough imagined worlds, sometimes even counter-realities begin to appear. What happens then is a kind of tickling sensation as the poem starts leaning, pressing toward the portal that leads everywhere "else," places where time is altered in juxtaposing measures of beauty and pleasure, unease and discomfort. Within their fluttering framework poetic meanings are infinite, woven by you and into you and beyond you until wonder reveals what was always there and yet never announced.

Visual Mapping of Poetry
The biggest fear of my lifetime has been that poetry as seen from outside is both a pointless activity as well as a useless commodity. And yet today like every other day, my only real ambition is to listen to the quiet, notice the reflections, and waiting for the implausible, offer myself up as scribe. So I choose to be in the world today as poet and to embody the purpose elucidated by the late American poet Audre Lorde who wrote an essay entitled "Poetry is not a luxury." She defends that proposition thus:

"The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing on the product which we live, and the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. . . . [I]t is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are - until the poem - nameless and formless, . . . but already felt . . .If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core - the fountain - of our power, . . . we give up the future of our worlds."

My purpose, at least part of it, is to wobble perception: mine, yours, ours. Your purpose, at least part of it, is to soften your focus and read more than once, each time more slowly. May we all enjoy the conscious plunge into co-creation.

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