Site Meter Peculiar Susceptibility: April 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

sometimes it's just hard for words

by Katie Taylor

It's been happening for about a month now, this disconcerting sense that I am losing my easy grasp on whatever fibers those are that connect my intended meaning with the expression of it that follows.

I am constantly doubting that anything I say or write makes sense. Emails and conversations are littered with "Does that make sense?" and "I'm not expressing it well" and "Do you understand what I'm trying to say?" And people respond "yes" or "no" or "I think so," but it doesn't leave me feeling any more assured that I've felted language and meaning together properly.

And another disconnection: I know this happens—I understand it intellectually. I've written about it, language dissolving when experience bursts its seams. Think about Toni Morrison in those school primer passages in The Bluest Eye. Think about Finnegan's Wake or Septimus Smith. Think about The New York Trilogy.

But I find more and more as I accumulate experiences that intellectual understanding does not prepare you for experiencing things during whatever present in which they occur. They're separate forms of knowing.

by Fay Ku

I was reminded the other day of the concept of the un-thought known. It's a term from psychoanalysis (if I understand it correctly) that refers to the knowledge a child accumulates that is never consciously given to her and that she doesn't knowingly receive. It's not a kind of knowledge that we can take stock of and it functions extralingually.

I keep hoping that maybe knowledge works a bit like a hybrid engine, with one part kicking in for the other when necessary. Maybe my un-thought known is picking up the slack these days.