Here I would like to insert some thoughts and observations regarding the import and opportunities of artistic or literary, making-up, collaging, discombobulating, rearranging “ordinary” languaging. If “words are congenitally conceptual,” and I believe they are – that fact alone being one of the fiercest tractions to work through and past in utilizing language as a medium for art – as objects in the world, rather than symbols standing in for (or between or over) objects in the world – then to arrange them or copulate them between languages or existent terms in a language, etc…is a way to bring the word and the activity of languaging toward experience in itself. Being creative with existent languaging systems means often turning accepted uses or meanings back on themselves, undoing “ordinary” uses and definitions in order that the words might be substances of a medium (like paint or clay for plastic arts, the body for dance, shapes and frames and objects for photography, and so on) that then can be its own artifact – its own place of meeting for a community of persons – a field for creating “meaning” in the world.
Ronald Sukenick and kin repeatedly direct us to view novels and poems not as “problems to figure out” but as “experiences to respond to.” Kafka suggested that “language must not be used as a means but must be experienced, suffered.” Given the flexibility and inaccuracies, polysystemic and multivalent capacities and references of existing language systems, to craft new paths of language, tweak or invite new usages provides us with new ranges of possibilities for direct relations. In a way, using language “novelistically” (ever-new) intends and evinces the making of new “speech fellowships” – occasions for overlapping our experiences – in each new reality of speaking, saying, inscribing.
To draw attention to letters and words as things-in-themselves rather than simply signs-referring-to-things-in-themselves, opens up vast territories of potentiality for the meetings and relations of human beings across languaging-systems, cultural contexts, professional or social standings, psychophysiological realities and so on…meeting in the words, the new words, the repurposed words, revised and invented as new objects in the world – artifacts – for us to engage and encounter together.
I would argue that this is precisely what great literature does (and a principal criteria for “greatness” in literature) – serves as a meeting point for the widest range of humans to deepen and expand their engagement with themselves and the world. The “speech fellowship” aspect might help to explain why some persons respond more strongly to particular authors or styles of languaging, but those works which are great, which renew, humans will recognize (given time) from any point of view.
This, I believe, is a challenge to all humans to attend to their languaging – viewing it as an activity much like sex or eating, work or play, that we do, indeed must do, in order to survive, but may also take pleasure and care in – that it might enrich and increase our moments of being alive – and create opportunities for more and more meaning – which occurs when we actualize and accentuate our interrelatedness – the fact of our being.
Well, there’s that…