Words About Non-Verbal

“What follows is my subjective analysis of a statistically insignificant data set.” ~ Robert Peake in the death of loftiness in poetry. His poll results is neat.
It comes as a variant of what is life, what is art. Is life art and the distinction being label? How does one reward another for living in the same way as anyone can? Is the being aware the same as being meditative? If we siphon off someone’s perceptions and recollections into a forum, onto a podium, is that all the content and skill needed, in the act of setting it apart?
Down to smaller questions…
Half of what I carried flew away is the title of an interview at Trickhouse #6. (It’s the summer issue but I’m just getting to it now.) Andrea Rexilius is interviewed by Eric Baus.
On the sides of the sound files are video clips of tangible things in the non-text world, wind in grass, fingers thru water. [The site isn’t the fastest. The quicktime do pop up eventually.]
The verbal and the visual are set up in parallel columns yet don’t describe or references each other. That alone is something interesting. It says something about what is left out of text, conversations and dialogues. Or even walks, for that matter. It being there suggests an engagement with senses as pertinent regardless of subject. Not all movement is information and concepts. What do we exclude for not being important enough? formative enough?
Why don’t I use video? I can catch as many seconds with my camera as my attention holds — as wind catches flaps of a valence, or red berries on a winter-dry rose bush glow.
Somehow I’ve internalized the idea that certain sets of what interests me isn’t of significant weight to others thus I will cause social distance if I speak of what delights. A blurry misprojection there.
Part of my mind is still back on the multiscreen film Ray and Charles Eames made for a world pavilion. There, the audience was presumed to be able to filter all the movies and the voiceover simultaneously. Their grandson Eames Demetrios talks about that and showed his own.
Somehow it isn’t hard to filter multiple tracks at once. Yes, in that case the tracks are of comparable subjects. You don’t deeply grok each. All images are landscape, all different vantage points of water, then shifts to different precise subjects of urban crowd scenes. So far as each set flows to the next and conveys mood, palette, shape of subject, it can all be parsed. It feels musical in terms of rhythm and progression.
It sounds as impossible as Commander Data listening to overlapping pieces of music yet in real life we stream on person’s voice from another, keep aware of what’s happening in the room of sound and movement and tone, may walk and notice changing scents.
We are monitoring parallel streams of senses and in once sense regularly. It is only this cut and dried absorption into a created world of fiction or task where we have the luxury of one-track. If we are cutting lumber we have to monitor in a way we don’t at desk jobs.
I’ve been thinking about senses.
The art gallery exhibit Fibred Optics is about use of space, but also visual and acoustic fields.
I can absorb more deeply visual and text without being overwhelmed. Explain how to get somewhere and I need to move thru pictures in my head. Spell something and I have to visualize the letters. I can filter out visual clutter. I can’t be moved by visual as readily as some can but it is easier for cognition. I can understand complex data from charts, powerpoint, or image faster and easier than if it were coming in sound.
Sound can shut off my senses. Sound can make me nauseated quickly. Loud sounds, sounds in conflict, competing can tire me quickly. When I am tired, I can read for longer than I can process anything thru the ears. I can enjoy a sound more completely when pleasant tho.
Visually I can be made dizzy by distortions, text out of register, for example.
But back to the Trickhouse piece. The text is about perceptual development, among other things. She finds going into nature, into tactile opens something up inside. Even if she doesn’t talk about what she saw or experienced, some conduit of words from somewhere can be accessed because of nature walks, discoveries there.
She describes her first meditation experiences of staring at a radiator as a kid. It reminded me of how time and definitions are structured differently.
When I was a kid, I could sit until I was cold and satisfied in the shade of a river. No one requested I come anywhere, wasn’t surprised when I disappeared, or reappeared. It wasn’t contentious or tracked. It wasn’t planned ahead of time or coordinated with anyone.
I’d sit by the nanny goat I had for a couple summers. The schedule was slack. When she ran out of things to eat, I’d move her so she could eat more, and not mom’s flowers. I could spend hours studying the stem and branch structures of weeds, look up in field guides, poke the ground and see what was on lower layers to speculate on why there was more of plantain in that area and more shepherd’s purse in another. I’d milk her when she needed it. There was something non-verbal and not exactly communicative looking at one another, but it would be a mistake to say there was no communication two ways either. We could read each others moods. We were aware of each other and reactive to some degree. We were equal individuals so far as what we could get across to one another and could get more across to one another than person to person where there was all the barrier of words meaning something in particular and complex maneuvers of editing behaviors.
Communication was micromovements of the face, learning to read and anticipate non-verbal and to predict outcomes, none of which was explicit.
When I was in linguistics and teaching I got preoccupied (happily) into the surface and deep structure of language. I was part of the prescriptive force for language, doing whatever I can to elicit verbiage to steer people from functioning without verbal. Non-verbal has limits when some kinds of complex language exchange are involved.
Being a stickler to phrasing, wording, is against the force of communication. Yet as an editor and teacher and writer I moved as a dentist sees only a world of teeth. The holistic of health’s communication got sidetracked.
My curiosity is corrective. Exposing myself to visual poetry helps me not to be literalist. It’s partly a matter of mindset. I want to move towards spirit rather than letter of law. (I certainly dabble there but there’s a difference between being imprecise, incoherent and having an economy of communication without being direct.)
Poetry Links:
Governor General awards photos – nice to see shiny happy peoples.
Magma Magazine asks, is there such a thing as Too many poetry books being published?
Experiment-o, issue 2 is released.

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