What Is The Language Using Us For #8

Certain experiences seem to not
Want to go into language maybe
Because of shame or the reader’s shame.

I have a theory, although I’m sure someone’s said it somewhere before, that all fiction (the stuff we make up) is really just a shame-driven reaction to non-fiction (the “real” stuff, the stuff we find uncomfortable to talk about). Poetry is closer to the “real” in that there is usually less of a story being woven around the feeling nub.

It’s a very human paradox that the things we most want to talk about, most need to talk about, have no outlet for expression, believing we can’t “go there” with others, unless we put it into some sort of story, sugar the pill, tell it about someone else (“you/Wanting to be another”).

“Reader, it doesn’t matter,” Graham tries to console us. And of course in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t. Whatever floats your shame-dodging boat. But in some ways it does.

It matters only in
So far as we want to be telling

Each other alive about each other

At the beginning of the poem, the writer is disconnected from that “flow” of telling, “stuck” in the “freezing prisms” of language (“I am in a telephoneless, blue/Green crevasse{{1}} and I can’t get out”). Maybe just stuck in the sentence he’s working on, which is a bad enough stuckness. But maybe part of the immobilization is due to the fact that he feels no-one, apart from himself, would find his inertia of much interest, having so much of their own to contend with:

[[1]]That blue/green crevasse feels incredibly familiar. Half sky, half shrubbery. At times the whole planet feels like a booby trap, with life, as David Whyte would say “a progressive and cunning crime/with no witness to the tiny hidden/transgressions”.[[1]]

would you ever want
To be here down on the freezing line

Reading the words that steam out
Against the ice?

In some way, other people’s stuckness feel like “suburbs” to our own experience. Let us go then, you and I, or maybe not. I live in a suburb. It’s dull at times. Everyone wants their show to be on in the West End, their exertions to be cheered on in the Olympic stadium. Most of us don’t get what we want.

In order to make us appreciate his feelings, Graham (we) have to translate or move this stuckness onto others. I’m not stuck, it’s Mooney: “deep down in[to] a glass jail”.

This realisation that “truth” is less palatable than fiction starts in childhood. Parents are not “allowed” (although they often break the rule) to tell children of their fears and desires, but they are allowed to tell them stories. The stories they tell them are sometimes deeply troubled ones. Children, for a while, are allowed (or expected) to tell parents exactly how they’re feeling. For a while they are all, feeling, only feeling. And then they learn how to think and lie, learn that the parent is more comfortable with thoughts (even lies, and are not all thoughts lies of a kind?) than with feelings. And so the fatal switch is made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *