Loving words, living

Verbal sensitivity, wrote John Gardner, was one quality a writer could use. I like this phrase better than “love for words.” It’s a closer approximation of what I enjoy when writing.
I do feel a caffeine jolt when I find a new word that captures what I mean. I love the sound of it, the cadence it adds to my sentence, the harmony or disharmony it contributes to the paragraph, or even to the whole work but what I enjoy is bigger than this. Gardner’s term includes more than the delight I feel with individual words or group of words. It is curiosity about the structure of language and the mimetic function of thought in putting flesh to experience. I might hazard to say that what I enjoy in writing is intrinsic to living life itself. Living by itself seems inadequate when I cannot put down what I am living into what I see. Seeing is at the core of writing, seeing in the sense like dipping a teaspoon into the surging river that I have a bit of it in my possession, something I can gloat over and dissect and make something else out of because what I have is not the river surely. It’s mine now; hence I I can, maybe even must do something with it. It is delight and obligation; it is response and responsibility.

I lost this sensitivity to language and to words for years but it only went underground and took on another form. I wanted to cultivate and understand images. Now I understand why. Language is more than words. It is a tool I was not interested in passing on information or facts. Language rises to its potential when it recreates experience. (Life is, after all, only what we experience, not some absolute thing, certainly not “reality” or “truth.” The art of the writer or graphic artist derives from his or her experience of this confounding, frustratingly ungraspable entity that created mystics in the first place. An artist is one who senses in some dark corner of her psyche that there is more to life than just living it. She must imitate what experience hints is it’s essence, that animating force that some call God. By imitating it she tries to identify with it and sometimes by God accomplishes this. Or appears to, anyway. Artists aspire to this goal, a goal no one can verify. Publishing what a writer writes might give verity to his success. Selling a movie concept or a video or a painting might make the artist feel he’s gotten it. The recognition by another person encourages the artist to try again, and try and try. But I think he tries because he must. Life otherwise would just not be enough. It has to be transported by his imagination and desire into something filtered through his being, through what he represents in the incalculably immense scheme of things.

To descend from hyperbole, I think I am on the right track. Better late than never, they say. Not being a fatalist I still think we do what we do. To feel remorse or dwell on what might have been is senseless. Desire is, like imagination, just a page in the eternally mysterious that changes and moves relentlessly on (or back or sideways). We don’t become eternal by cultivating art or achieving financial or business or personal success. It’s just life, this short span of time of awareness, of sensitivity.

Posted via email from Duende Arts

About orlando gustilo

Digital content producer, photographer, writer.
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