Helen and I built our relationship on sharing experiences. It began with cooking together, then mountain biking, and then listening to music — and then marveling to music.

This is very different for me; I’ve always seen relationships in terms of conversation, and most importantly, exchange of ideas.

But from childhood to late adolescence, Helen absolutely refused to connect intellectually. I was forced to find some other mode of relating to her, and finding it changed everything for me. To share the experience of marveling — to have a similarly awestruck response to beauty — connects us to each other and to the world. It is communion.

Then, after pointing me to the world beyond language, Helen became obsessed with linguistics, and now her knowledge is so deep, intricate and technical it defies my comprehension.


Exchange of ideas remains my primary mode of relating to other people. But now, the ideas I’m most keen to exchange are ideas that affirm the reality and the importance of reality outside of what words capture — the realities to which we relate through art, through religion, through wordless interaction, through sharing nonverbal experiences, through the exchange of gifts.


Language itself can grow solipsistic if we don’t perpetually reintroduce it to what transcends language. Yes, language and reason is reality but in a very important sense it is also with reality. Reality involves but exceeds the word.


I am still reading Michael Fishbane’s Sacred Attunement. My current section is examining a passage from Genesis from four multiple hermeneutic modes, called Pardes:

And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon the place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood beside him, and said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee back into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.’ And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said: ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.’ And he was afraid, and said: ‘How full of awe is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Beth-el, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. — Genesis 28:10–19

For Jacob it was a space, marked with an anointed stone.

Why can’t it also be music?

Hounds of Love

Abbey Road

The Green Bus

2 thoughts on “Co-marveling

  1. Language is just one form of semiosis. We can relate to one another and the world through signs (like music, art, anointed stones). Peirce: “all this universe is perfused with signs, if not composed exclusively of signs.”

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