An Incomplete Tangent on New Books and Language

A Branch from the Day

I am currently in the mess of research and it is a beautiful place to be, but because of this I have not been writing for my blog. Initially I was going to wait until my research was done and post the finished product, but now I think this is a ridiculous idea since it is taking me longer to finish than I originally thought. At the same time I want to always be thoughtful about what I write about and now I am facing the question of, “what do I want to write about now ?” I am hesitant to post my fiction, and I also do not want to talk about nonsense. What do I want to write about ?
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It was just the other day that I met up with a friend of mine at the library and we spent the afternoon talking about Husserl, Heidegger, and Being and Time. Towards the end of the day we stopped by a bookstore that is in the center of town -a grand and beautiful old building that is a faded shade of purple. I told myself repeatedly before we went that I would not buy a book, my mantra: “I will not buy a book. I will not buy a book. I have no need for a new book right now. I will not buy a book.” But it couldn’t be helped. I bought two books.

They are both books that I have never heard of before by authors I have never heard of before, and they were both nestled together on the bottom shelf in the fiction section. One of them is by an Ecuadorian writer, Abdon Udibia, and the other is by a man known as J. A. Tyler along the spine of the thin white novella. Tyler’s book is the one I want to write about briefly now.

Tyler writes one long prose love-lost poem in his thin volume, A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed. I find myself unable to start on the first page and instead I am flipping the book open at random and allowing the words find me. It is like reading something by Clarice Lispector almost –it is the type of book that has something important and profound to say on every page. I feel that I am fixated on the idea of love and love-lost because it is full of so many intense emotions, and that is why I am drawn to this book. Tyler pays close attention to both the feeling and the loss of feeling (even, the fear of losing the feeling and chasing it down a dark alley). But even when enmeshed in the intensity of feeling it seems impossible to articulate what is happening inside of the victim of love, and Tyler draws attention to this fact constantly. This inability to express the self is what I find fascinating. He writes:

“Words, all these words he says with with emphasis and with bragging.

I am all these words he says.

I did not invent these words he says.

We are not this language he says.

There is a whining. There is a critique. There is a womb. There is an emptiness. There are people shaking hands and being bored with their conversations and transcribing the sun down into words.

Words he says.

I will write a book he says.

We can come back together if we have come apart he says.

Then a wind. Then a leaf. Then a drop of rain or a flake of snow or the intent of living.

Until he made the mistake of letting the sun get into him, the embers so charged that his fingernails were orbs and no one could look at him. They shielded their faces, he was a star. They covered their faces, the horror.

You see now what you have done to me he says, How you have made me so different I can’t even exist anymore.

It wasn’t me he says, It wasn’t my fault.”

Often times I feel like my fixation on the idea of love harms me in some way, but I think I understand now that it isn’t so much love that I am paying attention to so much as it is feeling, and how alteration of the self can happen through feeling. Love seems to be one of the few things that most people can “understand” even when they do not understand it. When I say “understand” in this context I mean to imply more something that is “known” widely among the masses. There is a quality to love that can be seen when two lovers are witnessed exchanging their look of love. This look and the loved object gives a tangible quality to love and to “understanding.” But there are many things, many intense feelings, that are not easily “understood,” and it is not always the lack of something physical that alienates many from feeling. Many times it is the lack of something physical and the fault of language:

“She will not talk to him. She does not speak. She feels empty.

I said sun not son he says but knows it is too late for these kinds of mistakes. There has been a collision. Collide.”

Many people do not know how to use language, let alone feel language. It is a mistake on how we are taught to read and how to understand and how to be. The emptiness that the woman who the narrator loves feels is a symptom of our age (maybe every age). The slip of miscommunication and ignoring the subtleties of language can stifle feeling. How can we “understand” something, how can something be known to us, if we are unable to communicate the intangible ? One of the only ways to become closer to the intangible is through introspection, and many people are not taught to seek internally and externally. Since we have not arrived at a time where language is capable of communicating the incommunicable (inherently), feeling (and by this I refer to the intensity of feeling that is also felt outside of love) remains alien to many people. This is why, again, I fall back into exploring love. It is easier to explore something that can be discussed widely versus trying to explain to someone the transcendental sensation of standing in the woods late at night by yourself and looking up between the barren trees and seeing the moon and the stars glowing above you. Language fails me, and it fails you.

But even still, I want to try. I want to try to find a way to reach as many people as possible and to overcome miscommunication, or no communication. J. A. Tyler in his book finds a way to beautifully illustrate the pain that many of us have felt (in love or out of love), and how some of us have an excess of feeling whilst others are silent. He draws attention to what I am ultimately interested in (more than just love or feeling) however, and that is how futile language is when we try to reach for the intangible. That is what I am seeking, a way to grasp beyond me, beyond you, and bring back for both of us what we believe to be inaccessible (but what is always felt when we are ~still~ for a moment).

Pardon my tangent. There is still so much more to discuss, and I have neglected certain aspects of this whole affair. I hope you forgive me, but I do not have the time to go on. I hope you are well,

J.

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