Sunday, September 24, 2017

To Pledge Allegiance

To say it is to pledge allegiance to it.

I wonder if that’s always true of any word
we choose for any reason. We mouth,
we write, we type, we envision the letters
of the word – say, “breath” – and as we do,
we strengthen our familiarity with it, our
commitment to use it, to mean something by it,
depend on it to convey or reflect something
useful or illuminating: rely on it to re-make
reality, to believe its promise that it can: to give
experience the dimension of the spoken.

But intuitively we know a word isn’t the same
as a physical reality, say, the phenomenon
of breath. To write “Take a breath” and then
actually to take a breath are inviolably distinct.

They do not, cannot be twins. We decide they
mean each other, but we lie. We lie because
we must. How else would we agree to speak?

Words are lies.

What a terrible thing to say or write!
(And then you become Ezra Pound.)
But right now it doesn’t seem terrible.

Acknowledging words are lies suggests to me
there’s some dimension I don’t now know how
to inhabit, enter or register, in which
the experience or “truth” a word wants
to be and pretends it is can be found,
can be had directly. But wait, of course it can!
We are already having it directly.
We breathe as well as say we breathe.

Is ‘separate’ a turn-on? Maybe that certain
categories of phenomena can’t be bridged by one
another is a very great pleasure. Do I operate
on a pleasure principle? Inarguably. But oh,
what strange turns and twists that principle
insists upon! Separation: life. Rhymes
with strife. Unity: death. Rhymes with breath.


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