I just had this thought as if it were my own:
Poetry is language attending to what transcends language.
If Jan Zwicky hasn’t expressed this thought it would surprise me. If she expressed it in exactly these words it would not surprise me. I cannot remember.
But I do know that I would not have had this thought had I not read her. Yet, I did just have this thought myself.
I rehad her thought.
This is how it is with the kind of philosophies I love:
They give us new givens, if we are hospitable and take them in.
They outfit us with new transcendental conceptions (together-takings) that make us aware of givens that would otherwise evade our awareness. They allow us to understand, anticipate, perceive, recognize and think in radically new ways.
These new conceptions allow new being to irrupt into our sense of everything, ex nihilo, expanding, deepening and enriching the realm of possibility. They miraculously make the word “everything” larger and more accommodating.*
If this can happen once, it can always happen again.
Nothing — nothingness — will ever be the same again, because we can never be sure that some inconceivable somethingness isn’t lurking behind the nothingness, waiting to burst through and flood our lives with glory.
How could we ever take nothingness at face value, ever again?
How could we be nihilists, ever again?
We become exnihilists.
What does it mean to transcend language?
It means to suspend that impulse to recognize everything and assign it a word.
It means to notice those moments when we respond? without the guidance of speech, and to refrain from labeling those moments “absentminded”, but instead to become curious about who is doing all this doing, being all this being, am-ing all this am-ness.
Maybe we are truly absent in these moments — but maybe it is only speech that is absent. How do we discern? Do we really think sitting around talking to ourselves or to each other is going to clarify the issue? To speech, speechlessness is nothingness, but more is going on in us than speech can capture in its textual web.
Words can call us to what is beyond words. And that is exactly what they ought to do.
Language-breakers: Meditation mats, usability labs, acid tabs, shock…
Note: * Expanding, deepening and enriching the realm of possibility, making the word “everything” larger and more accommodating — this is the effect of magnanimity. The measure of a soul is how much is meant by the pragmatic sprawl of its belief in “everything”. But just beyond that sprawl is an inexhaustible more-than-everything, the wellspring of holiness, the awareness of which is wisdom.