Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sifting through the madness for the Word, the Line, the Way

(sarah here) had a moment out. read this and wanted to share it. it makes me think of van gogh and trying to get at something utterly heartbroken in the hopes for something new. or something old come alive. or just anything come alive. anyhoo, here 'tis.
"A new language?"

"Yes. A language that will at last say what we have to say. For our words no longer correspond to the world. When things were whole, we felt confident that our words could express them. But little by little these things have broken apart, shattered, collapsed into chaos. And yet our words have remained the same. They have not adapted themselves to the new reality. Hence, every time we try to speak of what we see, we speak falsely, distorting the very thing we are trying to represent. It's made a mess of everything. But words, as you yourself understand, are capable of change. The problem is how to demonstrate this. That is why I now work with the simplest means possible –so simple that even a child can grasp what I am saying. Consider a word that refers to a thing – ‘umbrella’ for example. When I say the word 'umbrella,' you see the object in your mind. You see a kind of stick, with collapsible metal spokes on top that form an armature for a waterproof material which, when opened, will protect you from the rain. This last detail is important. Not only is an umbrella a thing, it is a thing that performs a function –in other words expresses the will of man. When you stop to think of it, every object is similar to the umbrella, in that it serves a function. A pencil is for writing, a shoe is for wearing, a car is for driving. Now, my question is this. What happens when a thing no longer perfoms its function? Is it still the thing, or has it become something else? When you rip the cloth off the umbrella, is the umbrella still an umbrella? You open the spokes, put them over your head, walk out into the rain, and you get drenched. Is it possible to go on calling this object an umbrella? In general, people do. At the very limit, they will say the umbrella is broken. To me this is a serious error, the source of all our troubles. Because it can no longer perform its function, the umbrella has ceased to be an umbrella. It might resemble an umbrella, it might once have been an umbrella, but now it has changed into something else. The word, however, has remained the same. Therefore, it can no longer express the thing. It is imprecise; it is false; it hides the thing it is supposed to reveal. And if we cannot even name a common, everyday object that we hold in our hands, how can we expect to speak of the things that truly concern us? Unless we can begin to embody the notion of change in the words we use, we will continue to be lost."

"And your work?"

"My work is very simple. I have come to New York because it is the most forlorn of places, the most abject. The brokenness is everywhere, the disarray is universal. You have only to open your eyes to see it. The broken people, the broken things, the broken thoughts. The whole city is a junk heap. It suits my purpose admirably. I find the streets an endless source of material, an inexhaustible storehouse of shattered things. Each day I go out with my bag and collect objects that seem worthy of investigation. My samples now number in the hundreds –from the chipped to the smashed, from the dented to the squashed, from the pulverized to the putrid." "What do you do with these things?"

"I give them names."

- Paul Auster. City of Glass

sending love and hope to all reading with a sci-fi "wah-wah-wah-wah" sound, wishing for the technology to make it travel for real. everyone's so so important.


Brook said...

I remember reading City of Glass outside at Xhedos one spring about 5 or 6 years ago. Aside from enjoying the cryptic read, I don't think I was able to make much out of it at the time, especially without going on to read the other two. thanks for pulling a quotable out of there. Though for a minute you got me all excited thinking you were about to wax Bukowski!

Looking forward to seeing you at the end of the month.

ronwright said...

Naming really is a sacred process...I must let the object or other speak before I name, yet I must than hold my "name" for this loosely as this is an ongoing relational process that reflects dialogue and never fully describes the thing or person in and of themselves. I found the quote an apt description of what should go on in psychotherapy...the taking of brokenness in all forms and attempting to participate with the client in "naming" and bearing witness to that brokenness...sacred.

mister tumnus said...

wah-wah-wah-wah, backatcha.

it made me think of this;

the other night as i was putting ana to bed she grabbed 'green eggs and ham' and brought it over. the urgency with which she invited me to 'weed it! weed it!' will stay with me for a long time. she knows how to get words before she can speak them or read them herself. and then she will learn them and unlearn them and maybe learn the unlearned words before unlearning them as well. communication is a miracle whatever way you look it.

thanks for this. and i love what ronwright wrote too.

tonguetwister, that last sentence.

Aaron Doenges said...

David and Sarah -

I trust this message finds you doing well. I'm not sure if you will remember me or not but we met briefly when the two fo you were in Mt. Vernon (Ohio) for a lecture artist series invitation (I'm a semester 1 CMC alum, etc. You actually gave me an email address which I prompty lost so here I am putting this in a really random blog comment after other failed email I had mentioned at some point that I was waiting for an audition approval at Belmont and I'll be down to visit the school and see the area next weekend (the 15th-17th) and was wondering if you guys might be interested in getting a cup of coffee or something one evening? I thought perhaps there might be a good chance for conversation and relating while I was there.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts. If something doesn't work out then, perhaps after I move down that way in August sometime.

Peace to you today
-Aaron Doenges

"We are embarked" - Blaise Pascal

Carmi said...

Howdy. I followed your link home from Rainbow Dreams's (sorry, I'm Canadian) site.

After reading this entry, I feel inspired to go to the library right now. But it's soon midnight, so they're closed. Tomorrow. Walk on lunch. I'm there.

Thanks for the inspiration. I'm so glad I found your blog!

All the best!


LoserBaby said...

hey sarah (and jdd)

just heard in a very late night IM exchange with jude that you folks are gonna be 'belting it this year.

colour me grinning in sweet anticipation...
the sun's coming out.

much love to you both.

thinking of you often and always with the patina of the cherished,

c, x

John said...

The only really new language is that which is spoken by the Incarnate Divine Person.
All other language is inherently full of the yes/no double minded ambiguities of the inherently godless separate and separative ego-"I".
That having being said please check out: