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S. A. S. Female, 62, United States (6/21/2013 2:39:00 PM)

I don't think that words are lies any more than they are truths. Words are tools- building blocks- . But the idea of the tortured artist is one of the silliest ever. Every second spent working with words, trying to find both their universal and personal meanings, is a privilege and anyone who says otherwise is living in some disconnected resort of the mind....talk about gloss on a blackboard. It's hard work to try to find what makes the words " sacred" - another arbitrary word- but it is so satisfying, how can it be torture?
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I can't live without words. I've done it before, once for years- and it made me sick, it made me godless- I had no search, no place, no rosary. And there was no word that could be easily replaced by another word.
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My torture has been lack of language.
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I don't know how to philosophize about words. This plainspoken woman can only try to proceed unarmed.

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  • Augustus Egg (6/21/2013 9:30:00 PM) Post reply Stage

    JVC

    He concentrated, as he ought,
    On fitting language to his thought
    And getting all the rhymes correct,
    In such a space, in such a fashion,
    He concentrated into passion.

    Thom Gunn

  • Lamont Palmer (6/21/2013 7:52:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies Stage

    The 'privilege' of working with words did not save the lives of Sexton, Roethke, Crane, Berryman, and many others (not to mention the poets who were simply mad) . I think a lot of poets have a more complicated relationship with their art than you've laid out Sue, though I'm happy its that fulfilling for you. The 'tortured artist' may be a cliche, (I'd say its a cliche for a pretty solid reason) but I wouldn't be so cavalier as to call it 'silly'. Even Hemingway, that big hunk of manly 'confidence' said 'Writing is easy. Just sit down at your typewriter and open a vein'. Like most art, there are elements to it, either in the creation or the peddling of it, that often makes it a double edged sword. -LP

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    • Lamont Palmer (6/22/2013 9:30:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      I agree with you often Sue. But I cannot agree that the 'tortured artist' is silly or dismssable, particularly in the light of how devalued poets are in America, which is partly responsible for some o ... more

    • S. A. S. (6/21/2013 8:48:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

      LP, If I said you were 100% right, you would still find something to disagree with.

  • Mary Morstan (6/21/2013 5:01:00 PM) Post reply Stage

    Haha – I bet they'll be glad when I'm back to my job too! But I like this post. And I agree that words are tools. I meant words are lies in the sense that, like our names which do not describe us, they rarely fully describe what lies in front of us or inside us. (Today, for example, I was thinking of grass blades, how to describe them. Blades of grass seems ridiculous and wrong and I think " blades" is a lie in the context in which I am thinking of them in which they are fragile, not cutting.) In my opinion, that's why I/you/we rewrite and rewrite poems: to try and find the right words or set of words to give voice to what we want to say, to the truth as we see/perceive it or want to present it - or to go beyond words through the sound or rhythm the words create. (Personally, I don't think words, as signs/things, are sacred but the sounds of certain words either almost hypnotise me or make the hair stand up on my head.)

    I also agree about the myth of the tortured artist and that working with language is a privilege – for me a passion. But the argument there wasn't referring to artists or writers (I couldn't post the whole essay or you'd be there all day and so it's out context) . With regard to torturing language, I think he means torturing language out of the banal and ordinary and into the extraordinary (or out of the damned scientific or academic which is often a torture-house...) .

    But back to words. I'm obsessed with Samuel Beckett, love love love his writing. And it makes me think, yet again, of his last poem. Close to death, he was still searching for the right word. I'm sure I've posted it before and I won't post the whole thing:

    afaint afar away over there what -
    what -
    what is the word -
    seeing all this -
    all this this -
    all this this here -
    folly for to see what -
    glimpse -
    seem to glimpse -
    need to seem to glimpse -
    afaint afar away over there what -
    folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what -
    what -
    what is the word -
    what is the word

  • S. A. S. (6/21/2013 3:29:00 PM) Post reply Stage

    I screwed this up as it was meant as a reply to Wendy (below) . I bet people on this site will be happy when I'm well enough to go back to my day job.

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