Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Power of Words... be they Written, Thought, or Spoken

Karoda has me going deeper into my reasons for blogging. She wrote:
"Hi Pat, this entry (referring to yesterday's blog) reaffirms my stance that blogging is more about one's relation to the written word into thoughts and one's need to document me them for self and then connecting with others. Blogging is a monologue and a dialogue and the computer/internet is just another tool to make that happen. Reading blogs has made me more aware of wanting and needing to connect with other fiber/visual artists here in my own community than ever before."

The power of the written, spoken and even thought word(s) has often fascinated me. Isn't it amazing how the written word seems to have more value/credence than that the spoken word? Likewise, aren't our thoughts quite often considered of less valued than the spoken words of others? We live in a society that highly honors words - especially the written word. Look at the number of books published each year, the number of book stores and other places that sell books/magazines. Notice how some people actually believe something precisely because they've read it somewhere - and it doesn't even seem to matter what the source is! Then again, sometimes the source is considered so "sacred" that the words themselves take on gargantuan meanings to some.

The spoken word is also highly valued - look at the popularity of radio, let alone the near-addiction to television. What is also interesting to me by comparison is the replacement of real spoken conversations with minimalist messaging techniques. Our grandchildren write the strangest emails - simplified English, I suppose, within an electronic community. Stranger still is the telephone messaging that some use. Why not leave a 'real' phone message that shares your voice with the one you are calling?

The spoken word has the power to create or initiate action, for good or for ill. Gossip certainly creates more ill than good - whether or not the 'gossip' is true, an exaggeration, or completely fictional. Thankfully, the power of speech also helps to create positive results. Look at the speeches of JFK, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi. Words can inspire positive change with amazing speed. A good friend has the power to shift our perspectives, moods, focus, and more. A teacher can have a lasting impact on his/her students merely by sharing her thoughts, perspective, and enthusiasm for the topic at hand.

One of my deepest concerns as a grad school instructor was my awareness of how easily one can be misunderstood. Since my topic was spirituality, it was vital to me that the students feel free to question, challenge, and disagree with me. Part of the requirements for the class included reflection papers on each class period. These papers gave me a window into what was heard, understood or not, difficult to absorb, and more. Since I was there to offer tools for deepening their relationship with the spiritual aspects of their lives, it didn't matter whether or not the students agreed with different suggestions. They were always free to take what was useful to them and discard the rest. Still, the knowledge that some clearly did not understand some of the subject matter or tools offered disturbed me.

The power of the written word has another aspect for me personally which relates to the power of one's own thoughts. When I was first developing a meditation practice some 20+ years ago, I discovered that the easiest way to empty my mind was by writing my thoughts, fears, and joys down in a journal. Once I emptied my thoughts into the journal, it was relatively easy for me to have an empty mind open to meditation and later to contemplation. Daily journaling was a vital part of my spiritual practice - whether or not it was religious, per se, was and is irrelevant to me. Journaling also gave me a platform for my thoughts and in rereading my entries I was able to see my thoughts from outside my head, so to speak. The written word somehow removed my thoughts by several degrees allowing me a measure of objectivity and detachment. Thus I could come to see different perspectives and become aware of different options open to me with regard to troubling situations. I still journal today, although not daily.

Blogging may well be an interactive sort of journaling whereby the insights of others can intersect with my thoughts to create totally new thought patterns and opportunities. Certainly, for me, the reading of the blogs of others has opened my mind to more than new artistic techniques but also to different ways of seeing the world today. And that, again for me, is worth a great deal. That is part of the grand blessings of the internet – expanding individual awareness to a more global vision. I want to stay connected to a larger world than the one in which I routinely operate. And so I keep on blogging, albeit, intermittently!

Maybe tomorrow I'll add some photos, who knows?!


Gerrie said...

Very interesting thoughts, Pat. I loved Karoda's comment, too. It is interesting to me that I have several journals that I have started and never continued and yet, through the blog, I have found a way to put into words my work process and other things that happen in my day to day life. I think that having an audience that connects and interacts with me has made this important to me. I am an very much a verbal and social type so blogging seems to connect with that part of my personna. I am always sad when one of my bloogiing friends leave, ie. Mary Manahan. I am glad to see Lisa come back as well as another friend who took a break.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the written word has such "sacred meaning"since combinations of letters are what the "literate" world is taught to associate with meaning. If a tradition is oral, that is an introduction to the sounds of the letters which are given connotation. We later learn the letters, words, string them together, connotate, denotate and thrill each other with our literacy--our dialogue, our communication--We return to the oral as metaphor--finding our voice.

Some of us, women, I believe more, strive to find our written voice.

Yet, there is no public communication more primal or far reaching for this writer than music or art. Art and music reach the areas that words cannot; sure, we can express ourselves--"beauiful quilt," "powerful symphony," but we don't get it although we keep trying.

There are no words.

Art and music reach deep into those who experience, right down to the self that was formed--without words.

Pat's Place said...

You make an excellent point - art and music are non-verbal, intimate exchanges of deeply felt messages... Art and music speak 'universally' to those who can see and hear - there is no need for 'translations' although often artists want to explain their work. Art and music touch the primal energies precisely because they lack words - they speak to the pre-verbal experiences of infancy and early childhood. And, when significant experiences occur, there often are 'no words' as you have said. Some events leave us speechless by the sheer magnitude of the experience. And it is there that art and music are most eloquent in the ability to share and invite another into the experience, are they not?

Elle said...

My blog has truly helped me to focus on my projects! Not to mention get inspired by others'.