Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beyond The Words

By forthright thinking a man will arrive at the truth. Not by vain thinking in words, but by the meaningful thinking that springs from the source.

Karl Jaspers
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Wisdom often arrives at the door dressed in strange garb. Some say that writing is not a true art form. For the painter the color spectrum is the same the world over, and for the musician the tonal relationships never vary, Both tones and colors depend on natural law. But language is a variable thing. It changes from age to age, from nation to nation and even sometimes within a single nation. Some words have multiple meanings and thus a statement may be misinterpreted. Some authors have been arrested, and killed because of what they wrote or what someone thought they wrote.

All art can be dangerous, not just to the artist but to those who don't understand it. Like all art I think of literature not as an end, a purpose, a thing in itself, but rather as a door, a gate, a shrine. We go to a shrine to worship, not to worship the shrine but what it stands for, a god or goddess, a saint or an idea, a truth.

A writer's tools are words. But we are bombarded by words from every side: on every milk carton, soup can, on advertising brochures, papers and the Internet. It seems that words are like unsubstantial flecks of dust twirling around us, or piling up in the corners of our minds. With his tools the writer attempts to fashion something. It he's good it could be a poem, a letter or a story; something important.

When I'm writing I often stop and ask myself if what I've just typed is what I really want to say. That question needs to be answered on three levels. First, have I chosen the right words, is it clear? Second, have I thought clearly enough to address the subject I'm writing about, have I perhaps stumbled in my own thinking and haven't really grasped the truth of what I'm saying, And third, does the real meaning of what I'm trying to write come from that place behind the words and beyond the shrine, where the universal mind, the source, resides and speaks. Sometimes I don't get an answer to the third part of that question. But sometimes I do. And I'm grateful for those times.

It's a humbling but glorious condition to be even monetarily in tune with an intelligence beyond one's usual ability. It's a cleansing experience, an atonement, an epiphany, an elixir of spirit. It's the best reward there is for an artist's labor.

Have I said everything I want to say on this topic? No. I patiently await the words.

DB - The Vagabond
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SPRING QUESTION
(This is not a contest.)

In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.

Only 4 responses so far.

Answers will be published the first day of Summer.

dbdacoba@aol.com

DB - The Vagabond
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6 comments:

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I wish I could write half as well as I think. It is a difficult chasm for me to bridge.

Lori said...

DB, this is a wonderful entry. May I quote parts of this in an entry of my own? I will link to you, of course. You have said this so well. Right out of high school I went to work for a newspaper. The job was as a layout artist, and the man interviewing me asked if I considered myself artistic. I honestly answered that I was not an artist, but a writer, and honestly didn't know if I could do the job completely. I knew I could write ad copy, but the "layout" part would be an unchartered realm for me. He shrugged off what I said and told me, "if you're a writer, then you ARE artistic." I never forgot that. I was a very GOOD layout artist, if I do say so myself, and I also did a lot of reporting and feature writing for the paper once the editor saw what I could do. So this entry really hits home with me. I love the initial question you asked and would like to explore it in my own blog.

Rose~* said...

Of course writing is an art form - you have to craft it like anything else that needs practise, talent and lots of patience. Some have a gift for it, others need to work at it - and no two results are ever the same.

pacifica62 said...

I believe that a writer is very much an artist. His canvas is the blank page. He picks and chooses the letters and words as carfully as a painter chooses his colours and spacial arrangement. The painter wants to convey a meaning, a feeling, a hidden emotion and the writer will convey these same attributes. The true beauty of words happens in the mind of the reader for every word will mean something different to each one.Very much a gate or a doorway to wherever our mind can take us.

Gerry said...

By living all over the state of Utah where I was born I was able to see how words were used in that society first to defend the religion which was under fire considerably then from outsiders but which also were refined and changed to express the thoughts of the insiders to one another. One of my parents had been born to a skeptical free thinker, while the other had a parent raised in polygamy so you can imagine the differences in language in both of their homes and what happened when they married and clashed. I attended high school in Salt Lake and 3 years to the University so when I came back to my little hometown in country southern Utah my younger sisters claimed that I was speaking a different language than country, uppity and lah de dah. I said people had made fun of me until I altered my southern Utah way of saying certain words like bear, horses. We said 'bare' and 'harses.' My youngest sister still continued to take great offense to the change saying I was now a snob! Something like this has continued ever since, as I have been attacked many times for more liberal attitudes about homosexuality, relations between the races, etc until I could almost recognize country attitudes as reflected in choice of words, accent, and attitude! Then I would labor to try to capture these differences in my characters in novels and plays so they would sound authentic, a fascinating study actually of how language, words, express so many differences. I think you have to have a good ear to hear those changes!

Liz said...

First, have I chosen the right words, is it clear?
Second, have I thought clearly enough to address the subject I'm writing about, have I perhaps stumbled in my own thinking and haven't really grasped the truth of what I'm saying.
Third, does the real meaning of what I'm trying to write come from that place behind the words and beyond the shrine, where the universal mind, the source, resides and speaks?

1. Who is best to translate my thoughts into words?
Answer ~ Me.
2. Who is best to grasp the truth of what I am saying?
Answer ~ Me.
3. Where does the real meaning of what I’m trying to write come from?
Answer ~ Me.

Therefore I have a lot to answer for.

QED