Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Holes between Words

I came across an intriguing essay today by Jordan Benjamin, who had gone to Vilnius, Lithuania in 2006 to learn the language of his great-grandfather.  While there, a friend and fellow-student from Paris tells him of his interest in "the way certain modernist writers use the spaces between words to convey meaning."  He (the friend) is particularly interested in "the way these writers describe the inevitability of falling into the holes between words."  What does that mean, exactly, the "holes between words"?

One tries to reconstruct reality through words but finds them inadequate.  You're left in a kind of limbo waiting for words "to present themselves."  They don't.  So you look outside of language to say what words can't say.  Jordan Benjamin's friend, however, believes that these holes or spaces between words are an essential part of language and that "they constitute half the text."   (The holes themselves--those empty spaces where you wait to find the words--are part of the text?  The missing threads, as it were, haven't yet been woven but are still somehow part of the existing fabric?)

Existence itself as a language, of words and not-words.  Jordan asks himself  "If you believe existence is a language, then what does it mean to fall in love with a language that is dying?”

Good question.  And I have one as well:  Might language inherently contain the seeds of its own demise, where "the space between the words" widens and one falls into the wordless hole lacking the key to close the gap?  Are there spaces or holes within its structure that cannot be filled--even by non-words--and how does that translate into "text"?  Texts can be preserved--up to a point.  But if one can no longer read them, speak them, or interpret them ... then what?

Waiting for Words

Languages that are dying
leaving spaces that morph
into gaps
of unreachability . . .

Poets that struggle
to fill the void
left by words not yet

The comings and goings
of logos
into and out of
the spaces
among them
in a swirl of

waiting to be united

or expire

*26 Birds -- photo taken by awyn, Winter 2004, in the back yard.

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