Words

Transcript:

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people’s lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past. The splendid word “incarnadine,” for example – who can use that without remembering “multitudinous seas”? In the old days, of course, when English was a new language, writers could invent new words and use them. Nowadays it is easy enough to invent new words – they spring to the lips whenever we see a new sight or feel a new sensation – but we cannot use them because the English language is old. You cannot use a brand new word in an old language because of the very obvious yet always mysterious fact that a word is not a single and separate entity, but part of other words. Indeed it is not a word until it is part of a sentence. Words belong to each other, although, of course, only a great poet knows that the word “incarnadine” belongs to “multitudinous seas.” To combine new words with old words is fatal to the constitution of the sentence. In order to use new words properly you would have to invent a whole new language; and that, though no doubt we shall come to it, is not at the moment our business. Our business is to see what we can do with the old English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.

And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, or if you could learn the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper you’d pick up, would tell the truth, or create beauty. But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. For though at this moment at least a hundred professors are lecturing on the literature of the past, at least a thousand critics are reviewing the literature of the present, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women are passing examinations in English literature with the utmost credit, still – do we write better, do we read better than we read and wrote four hundred years ago when we were un-lectured, un-criticized, untaught? Is our modern Georgian literature a patch on the Elizabethan? Well, where then are we to lay the blame? Not on our professors; not on our reviewers; not on our writers; but on words. It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most un-teachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none. Yet there is the dictionary; there at our disposal are some half-a-million words all in alphabetical order. But can we use them? No, because words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind. Look once more at the dictionary. There beyond a doubt lie plays more splendid than Antony and Cleopatra; poems lovelier than the Ode to a Nightingale; novels beside which Pride and Prejudice or David Copperfield are the crude bunglings of amateurs. It is only a question of finding the right words and putting them in the right order. But we cannot do it because they do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady’s reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.

Thus to lay down any laws for such irreclaimable vagabonds is worse than useless. A few trifling rules of grammar and spelling is all the constraint we can put on them. All we can say about them, as we peer at them over the edge of that deep, dark and only fitfully illuminated cavern in which they live – the mind – all we can say about them is that they seem to like people to think before they use them, and to feel before they use them, but to think and feel not about them, but about something different. They are highly sensitive, easily made self-conscious. They do not like to have their purity or their impurity discussed. If you start a Society for Pure English, they will show their resentment by starting another for impure English – hence the unnatural violence of much modern speech; it is a protest against the puritans. They are highly democratic, too; they believe that one word is as good as another; uneducated words are as good as educated words, uncultivated words as good as cultivated words, there are no ranks or titles in their society. Nor do they like being lifted out on the point of a pen and examined separately. They hang together, in sentences, paragraphs, sometimes for whole pages at a time. They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.

Perhaps that is their most striking peculiarity – their need of change. It is because the truth they try to catch is many-sided, and they convey it by being many-sided, flashing first this way, then that. Thus they mean one thing to one person, another thing to another person; they are unintelligible to one generation, plain as a pikestaff to the next. And it is because of this complexity, this power to mean different things to different people, that they survive. Perhaps then one reason why we have no great poet, novelist or critic writing today is that we refuse to allow words their liberty. We pin them down to one meaning, their useful meaning, the meaning which makes us catch the train, the meaning which makes us pass the examination…

This is the only known surviving recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice. It is part of a BBC radio broadcast from April 29th, 1937. The talk was called “Craftsmanship” and was part of a series entitled “Words Fail Me”. The text was published as an essay in “The Death of the Moth and Other Essays” (1942).

La voz de Virginia Woolf

Esta es la única grabación que aún perdura de la voz de Virginia Woolf. Es parte de una emisión de radio de la BBC del 29 de abril de 1937. La charla se llamó “Artesanía” y fue parte de una serie titulada “Las palabras me fallan”.

Anamnesis

The artist struggling whith ellipses in a still life may end up with a painting dotted with doughnut-like formations that are supposed to represent the rims of cylindrical vessels.

Some ellipses appear lop-sided, others look like UFOs. In several cases, the ellipses appear to inhabit a different space to that of the vessel concerned.

How can the artist overcome the problem of painting ellipses on objects?

The still life artist may find painting ellipses difficult to avoid, as many household objects contain ellipses. The list is endless: vases, teacups, teapots, mugs, urns, saucers, eggcups, tankards, dishes, pots, pipes, cake tins, wine glasses and bottles.

This can be a headache for the artist wishing to steer clear of such elements. But the hurdle of drawing ellipses is a common one which can be overcome. Before making improvements, the following practices need to be addressed, including the most common issue, giving the ellipse corners.

Drawing the ellipse asymmetrically. The ellipse might slant to one side resulting in a tear-shaped ellipse.

Another common mistake is illustrating the rim of the vessel as a single line without suggesting any depth to the rim depicted.

Rendering dark lines around the ellipse, even though lines cannot always be discerned on areas on the actual rim.

Failing to accord the base of the cylindrical object with the rim at the top, resulting in a vessel that appears to inhabit two areas of space at the same time. A common example is drawing the base of the cylinder as a straight line, and the ellipse at the top as an ovoid.

gangkhar puensum

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670.

“He descubierto que toda la desdicha de los hombres proviene de una sola cosa, que es no saber permanecer en reposo, dentro de una habitación” (fragmento 139 de la edición Brunschvicg).

(Véase James Vincent, “We’d rather give ourselves electric shocks than be alone with our thoughts, says new study”, The Independent, 4 de julio de 2014).

¿Y si no subiéramos a las montañas más altas?

aesthetics

¿No lo he dicho ya? – escribía Rilke en “Los cuadernos de Malte Laurids Brigge” – Estoy aprendiendo a ver. Sí, este es el comienzo. Todavía no se me da demasiado bien. Pero me esforzaré al máximo. Por ejemplo, nunca me había preguntado cuántas caras existen. Hay una cantidad enorme de personas, pero hay muchas más caras porque cada persona tiene varias.

[FACES] by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Have I said it before? I am learning to see. Yes, I am beginning. It’s still going badly. But I intend to make the most of my time. For example, it never occurred to me before how many faces there are. There are multitudes of people, but there are many more faces, because each person has several of them. There are people who wear the same face for years; naturally it wears out, gets dirty, splits at the seams, stretches like gloves worn during a long journey. They are thrifty, uncomplicated people; they never change it, never even have it cleaned. It’s good enough, they say, and who can convince them of the contrary? Of course, since they have several faces, you might wonder what they do with the other ones. They keep them in storage. Their children will wear them. But sometimes it also happens that their dogs go out wearing them. And why not? A face is a face. Other people change faces incredibly fast, put on one after another, and wear them out. At first, they think they have an unlimited supply; but when they are barely forty years old they come to their last one. There is, to be sure, something tragic about this. They are not accustomed to taking care of faces; their last one is worn through in a week, has holes in it, is in many places as thin as paper, and then, little by little, the lining shows through, the non-face, and they walk around with that on.”

suburbia

Is the suffering of others also our own? In thinking that it might in fact be, societies expand the circle of the we.

The environment suddenly shifts in an unforeseen and unwelcome manner.

 

Move to strangeness

 

Human beings need security, order, love, and connection

 

Memories about the past guide this thinking about the future

 

Reactions to a volcano-like event that shook the foundations of the social world.

 

Holding an attitude of benign neglect or cynical indifference

 

A blow to the psyche that breaks through one’s defenses so suddenly and with such brutal force that one can not react to it effectively

 

An important part of the self has disappeared… “We” no longer exist as a connected pair or a linked cells in a larger communal body 

 

Truth goes underground

 

One cannot simply leave behind

 

Buried in the unconscious, the event is experienced irrationally, in the nightmares

 

Denials that insist on looking to the future and forgetting the past

 

Fragmented and polarized social order

 

Bridging the gap between event and representation

 

A spiral of signification

Source:  ALEXANDER_Cultural-Trauma

randomly

“I woke up one day and everything in the apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica. I said to my room-mate, Can you believe this? Everything has been stolen and replaced with an exact replica. He said, Do i know you?

Steven Wright . N.Y. Times.

Random images/ random quotes by Artist David Templeton

“Me desperté un día y todo en el apartamento había sido robado y reemplazado con una réplica exacta. Le dije a mi compañero de habitación, ¿puedes creer esto? Todo ha sido robado y reemplazado con una réplica exacta. Él replicó, ¿te conozco?

Steven Wright . N.Y. Times.

Imágenes al azar/ citas al azar del artista David Templeton