Words. Words, words, words. Words are tools, and I am constantly struggling to put them down. I drill and pick and scrape away at the contents of my brain, but all I ever seem to achieve is a splitting headache and a hole in my skull that just keeps growing. One more inch. One more chance. This time. I dig and bore and rivet my way out into the world, uncontrollably, into other people’s heads, and this leaves me spread thin, covered in dust and debris, spinning always in circles around the countless pairs of optic sinkholes that threaten to swallow me whole. One more. Two more. Next time.
This cycle threatens to disintegrate me. I am not weak, but existence is not easy. Why do I do it? Is it necessary for my survival? No. My happiness? Fuck, no. Clawing into everything with reams of word-data serves no purpose. It doesn’t aid me. It clouds and constricts me like an ancient curse. My world is run-through, impaled, entwined and infiltrated like a neural disease. I do this to myself. Why? Why must I think??
I know why, but I can’t accept it – a choice that was made for me, by no one, an infinity away in time. ‘You will think.’ The knowledge grates in dark moments. There I was, a bi-pedal simian, and one day some cosmic, kaleidoscopic alignment of mathematical harmonies and golden ratios caused one of my organs to insinuate so deeply within itself that it forgot that it was a part of its own environment, that it turned forever inwards on a journey to nowhere, that it would even go so far as to create inside its own borders a miniature world, one for ‘each’, so as not to have to accept the ultimate sameness of bi-pedal simians, and by extension all other things as well – a world seemingly almost as infinite as the one which contains it. Beautiful, wondrous nonsense.
But here I am, stuck with words. What should I do? How should I construct my inner-outer-world? Despite recent quantum revelations, I cannot be in all places at once, and neither can my words, my thoughts, my conscious attention. I must always be present in the space that surrounds me. People, places, love and hate; responsibilities, hard truths, and definite headings, the things that I can feel. If I must consider some far off, abstract reality, I should consider it not as a separate entity, a self-sustaining world of its own, but as an object of my consciousness in that moment, a construct of my own making, as it really is.
Words left alone in the dark of the mind whir on and on like power-drills dancing in the basements of abandoned building sites, demolishing randomly; but, like tools, even when words are used purposely, under the bright floodlights of consciousness, our moment-to-moment decisions about their use achieve specific ends well or poorly – and we must choose, always.
We are careless with our words, both spoken and merely thought. Many a hapless architect of meaning has spent their life knocking in screws with wood-saws and wondering why their shelves hold no weight. All too often and in so many ways, the soaring, sailing, stampeding plains of our imagination are inadequately cast in the cold sculpture of rhetoric. Fault is irrelevant. I say this because instinctively my mind leaps to this track when confronted with the boundless, inescapable x-and-y-axis-cage of representation, when the mad frenzy of word-blindness possesses me and I scream at the heavens, ‘Who made me this way?!’. Perhaps this is a strike against me. Perhaps I am alone. I don’t know, but I know that, despite all the amounted evils in the world, no one can be to blame for the phase-gap between what we see and what we say.
Representation truly is a prison, a never-ending mirror-world of mirages, near-misses, and next-times, but I find that I sit forever on both sides of the bars. This is strange. I am imprisoned and yet I am free. I laugh uncontrollably at myself as I burn silently on the inside, the other me always blocking my view of the world beyond the divide. How can I describe the universe that is outside my words? How can I bring a conscious visit to the grand city-scapes of metaphorical reflection, and return with souvenirs? I can’t.
The trick, of course, to dealing with these sorts of questions satisfactorily is to cease asking them. [I should say, I am not here to imitate some monk, though I sometimes do, attempting to goad you into tranquil submission to the almighty. My aim is to enlighten, to bring torch-fire into the craven hiding places of doubt – I will explain.] I, you, we, need never travel back and forth across the equator of life and its double as we so often do, separating our selves in the process. We need only recognise that we exist, as we have since the forging of the first great metaphors long ago, on both sides of the mirror simultaneously – both as our actual selves, and as the auto-script puppets of our woefully inadequate representations. This is due, as I described earlier, to some accident, joke, or miracle of fate that causes us to find ourselves irrevocably staring down both ends of the gun barrel, using our words while they use us.
You are a captive only of yourself; pilot and ship, workman and pick, substance and addict combined. The most terrifying aspect of this dual-existence we lead is the knowledge that, despite our protestations, the two can never, and will never, become one. But that’s OK. I promise you, it is. I may whinge and wallow and lament sometimes, but the simple truth which hides behind is that a tool is what you make of it. Pick it up, put it down, learn to use it well, but never forget that purpose is beyond its reach, that tools require masters, and that flowers will never grow where concrete reigns.
Written & Published – November 2017
Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash