What Can’t be Spoken

I’ve had a little hiatus from writing here on this blog of mine. The holidays, travel, fun, stress, the usual suspects. And a certain hesitancy to pick up the virtual pen and write again. Even the word “blog” irritated me just now as I wrote that first sentence. Blog … what sort of word is that? Blog, bog, log, boggy feelings, being weighted down, a mere cog in the wheel … the associations that come to mind are not particularly pleasant. It sounds like something that gets stuck in one’s gut and needs medical intervention to remove it. “Thank God, I went into the surgecenter and got that blog removed yesterday. I feel so relieved!”

Can you feel my resistance and irritation? What can really be said, I wonder, in the end? What use are words? These are dangerous thoughts for a therapist who practices “the talking cure.” My funk will pass, I know, and likely I will write my way through it and into a space where the words mean something again. They will communicate thoughts and feelings, and I won’t feel so bloggy.

In the meantime, I will report that I have recently been perusing the websites of many local artists here in Portland, Oregon, exploring the art realm here and looking at many images of sculpture, painting, drawing, and photography. I have also been watching a few documentaries on great masters, including Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo, and Louise Bourgeois. Among the many motivations, conscious and unconscious, leading me to these explorations stands a feeling that sometimes the important things cannot be spoken. They must be formed into images.

In his book, The Art of Sculpture, Herbert Read identifies the work of sculpting as the artist’s formation into image of an emotive state that exists within. Whether this is a comprehensive definition that holds true for all sculpture in all times and all places I don’t know, and don’t frankly care. For my purposes it works well. Reading this led me to take up hammer and chisel myself this past week and begin shaping a large block of aerated concrete–into what form, I don’t yet know. But something is moving now; that much is clear. There is an intelligence and an emotional reality embedded in the material, and it’s my job to notice what it wants, and to help it come into being.

Already I feel less bloggy. Something like this process I am describing often happens in therapy. Things get stuck. Words don’t come, or when they do, they don’t say what we want to say. Then an image comes, in a dream, a waking fantasy, or a piece of artistic work, and the flow of communication of thoughts and feelings comes back, and with this flow words once again mean something, and even prove indispensable.

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