September 22, 2014
“Show me a word.” I used to start my writing classes with that declaration, kids or adults. One can’t, in fact, show a word. The things on the page are symbols FOR words, and the symbols are open to interpretation, alteration, perturbation.
Words have weight, yet no corporeal existence. As for the audio tips of words, our brains think much faster than we can speak. There is no, “I didn’t mean it,” because we did mean it, sometimes literally, more often deliberately for the perverse pleasure of the hurt. Words hurt, yet do not have corporeal existence. One cannot take back what was never real. But the scars of the words, the psychic wounds run as deep as the roots of prairie flowers.
He (happily): Yes. She (flatly): No. He (begging): Yes! She: No. He (tearfully): Yes! She (menacing): No. He (kidding): Yesssss. She (laughing): Nooooo.
“No,” often means “yes.” “Yes,” often means “no.”
This is the innovation, the advancement that makes humans superior? Eek.
“Truth” is a bullet word, a .45 caliber, hollow-point ripper. “The sky is blue.” The sky is not, has not ever been blue. We “see” the blue, rejoice in the blue. True.
The wind has no color, but if you pose the question: “What color is the wind?” with no previous setup, the writer must respond and by responding reveals emotional truth about him- herself. If a kid has a blue pen and a red pen, and he/she answers the question in red ink, that kid is enduring emotional disturbance. I once prevented a high school girl’s impending suicide by reading her red-inked poem and seeking her out, and getting help for her.
We mostly confuse emotion with fact. This is the blindness that generates theater, what is so satisfying about the word bath that is live theater, in which one gets dirty in the imagination. What one believes to be true, and what is true, almost never converges at Truth. And a life of facts only, is not a life. And a life of emotion only is a self-deception.
“Good” . . . means nothing. “Bad” . . . means nothing. “Love” . . . is the most infamous of the, “What did you mean by that?” words. In itself, it means nothing. In my heart, it means everything.
“Fuck” is a distant second. When Carrie Fischer’s character in “Shampoo,” asks Warren Beatty’s character, “Would you like to fuck?” we get it (sixteen-year-old Carrie was grounded by her mother Debby Fischer for saying that line). Otherwise, “fuck” is a universal expression of insult, shock, dismay, despair, elation . . . but not sexual pleasure. Talk about perverse.
I am looking out my window at the orange sunset through the green trees under the blue sky. What does it mean? What is the meaning?