Monday, June 9, 2008

Is This What Books Are For?

I've commented that exploring the stroke account by Jill Bolte Taylor is giving me language for experiences in my life I could not previously explain. Is this the gift of writing? Is this what books provide us with? I wonder if storytelling is a way of giving people language to express an experience they didn't even know they were having, to provide a framework by which they can see themselves and make sense of their own story. Perhaps language isn't the big bad demon I've been seeing it as. Maybe I just didn't know what to say.

tall penguin

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if storytelling is a way of giving people language to express an experience they didn't even know they were having, to provide a framework by which they can see themselves and make sense of their own story."

If only you could read yourself from not you. :)

tall penguin said...

Yes, if only. Thank you. Your words are touching a very soft space in my heart today.

Anonymous said...

But you can't, take it from those of us who can.. here is where I've run out of words and can only send resped and admiration your way, so I hope you can catch well. :)

Anonymous said...

actually, I'll send respect, not resped. :)

tall penguin said...

I'm mastering the art of catch; it's that 3 year-old thing. ;)

Anonymous said...

but isn't it more fun to be jack of all trades, master of none?

tall penguin said...

I always thought being a jack of all trades was just a lack of discipline to one area. Now that I enjoy spreading myself around in different pursuits, I'm likin' it.

Anonymous said...

nay nay, it's a willingness to experience life and all it offers, both good and bad, for you need each to put the other in perspective.

i'm glad you're enjoying it :)

Flonkbob said...

Whenever this subject comes up I think back to Orwell's 1984. He contends in the story that if you take the words away from people it takes away much of their ability to formulate 'bad' (i.e., new) ideas. The state controls the proles thoughts by not giving them the words of dissatisfaction, rebellion and so on.

I think that it's true to some extent, but I do remember times when I was younger (and I'd be hiding behind a treefern waiting for the damn dimetredon to pass) and I'd be dissatisfied with some situation but have no way to explain it or say WHY. Later I'd always find the words because I read voraciously...but not having words just slowed me, didn't stop me.

Of course this doesn't work as well with the 99% of the population I've mentioned before. 0=)

tall penguin said...

"Orwell's 1984. He contends in the story that if you take the words away from people it takes away much of their ability to formulate 'bad' (i.e., new) ideas."

So very true. Hemming in language is one of the deepest forms of mind control. It limits creativity and the human spirit.

"I do remember times when I was younger (and I'd be hiding behind a treefern waiting for the damn dimetredon to pass)"

Hahaha!

Anonymous said...

I was reading somewhere recently about writing music. They say that music (and I think probably all art and writing) assists us in experiencing the full spectrum of our emotions.

Sometimes writing music feels selfish to me and I get blocked because I feel self-conscious.

But it's easier when I realize that it helps people. That other people hear songs and tear up and that that feels wonderful.

I think writing is similar and I also like this idea of it expanding our vocabulary for interpreting our experiences.

After I saw you reference Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, I went back and read it again. I realized that in all my intellectualizing these last couple years, I've almost completely lost my sense of beauty and idealism. Reading that book helped.

As your blog so often does.

So if you ever get blocked, remember that.

-[ExJW]

tall penguin said...

Most sincere thanks ExJw.

"Sometimes writing music feels selfish to me and I get blocked because I feel self-conscious.

But it's easier when I realize that it helps people."

It's this strange dance we do with our creative process isn't it? I
wake in the night with a sense of dread sometimes thinking of the silent judgment that people might be holding around my work here. But deeper still, there's this voice that tells me to keep going, that somehow there's merit to my writing.

And then, commenters like your fine self come and let me know that it does make a difference. That is why I write. That is why we create. First, for ourself (so yes, it is selfish) and secondly, for the support of others, to give them a "voice" for their own experiences.

I think art creates community. A sense of connectedness. The inner calm that comes in knowing we are not alone. That is the loftiest thing a human being can contribute to this planet methinks.

Keep writing music. The planet needs it.

Flonkbob said...

"I think art creates community. A sense of connectedness. The inner calm that comes in knowing we are not alone. "

That's it! That's it exactly. I've never thought of it in those terms, but you're right. When I'm on stage playing in front of complete strangers it brings them up, and the band starts grinning, and pretty soon it's not "us" and "them", it's just "US!" and we're having fun!

I've always said before a gig "If we have fun, the crowd will have fun. They care less about musical excellence than they do about the musicians making magic together because they love it."

tall penguin said...

"I've always said before a gig "If we have fun, the crowd will have fun. They care less about musical excellence than they do about the musicians making magic together because they love it."

Yes, my friend flonkbok, yes! The best musical experiences for me are the ones where I feel connected to the performer and know they're having a great time performing. Any hint of contrivance or non-fun and my heart shuts down.

And yes, it IS magic. Creation is the greatest magic each of us can perform. We are the gods we seek.

Anonymous said...

Also, I think you should watch this:

Robert Fulghum interview. About ten minutes long.

Skip to 26:49

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5121843703699817977&q=robert+fulghum&ei=IvlPSLjvM6eg4AKP0aGqDA&hl=en

-[ExJW]

tall penguin said...

Wow, that was an incredible interview. Thank you for pointing me to that. The first time I read Fulghum I felt like I was home. It was the first time I felt connected to a writer. I wrote a fan letter to him as a teen. Never sent it.

I have these secret dreams of him writing the foreward to my book one day.

There are so many great quotes in that interview. But what made me tear up was when Charlie Rose asked what he least liked about himself, he said:

"I guess I've reached a point in my life where I accept the whole person; the squirreliness as well as the straightness; and I'm really comfortable in my own skin"

That's the place I reach for each day. I think it's the place we all seek.