A work in progress...
Last updated 15/04/2022
Word-play? Play-on-words? Words-in-play? A play-of-words?
Words don’t care where you place them.
But where you place them
makes a world of difference.
Squeezed lemons, spilt milk.
Smoothing the counter
abandoned in glee.
Slivers of sunlight
slicing the firmness of brick
into pieces of honey-pie.
Eyes thick with the richness
My tongue trails the steam
of scents new arising.
If I were to tell you
here, now, is a world beyond measure,
would you imbibe what I embrace?
Would your senses be so kind
as to deceive you in their receiving?
Then here, now,
is a world beyond measure,
not to be contained by scales, jugs, spoons and jars
but released through acceptance.
Do not bring your measuring cup.
Or else stand prepared to have your scales tipped.
What explodes here, now, is not so easily held.
William Irwin Thompson | Cultural historian, essayist, and poet
Dark moon rising, The LightCatcher Chronicles
I see you.
Beyond the cloudy explanations
and veiled remarks,
I see you.
Your intention. Your longing. Your soul-desire.
If I have overshadowed your light,
or sullied your intention,
it is only because I am guided by my own inner compass,
nudged this way and that,
feeling always for the even-keel.
Ideas can unbalance me,
rise to swallow like a rogue wave.
I swat them away, like so many midges.
Do I discard you in my purposeful abandon?
It is not my intention.
Gregory Bateson | Anthropologist, philosopher, linguist, author, naturalist, systems theorist, and filmmaker
Today I am trawling through a pile of books on my desk, fishing for word-bait – chunks of text that I can use to teach grammar as part of an online English curriculum.
Today’s lesson is on subject-verb agreement. I pick up Patrick White’s Voss, knowing that the language will be dense in complex grammatical elements, rich in imagery and meaningful in metaphor.
I have grown weary of using the sentences preferred by most teachers, educational blogs and texts in which references to shopping, school, and good behaviour are prevalent…
She was wearing a new red silk dress.
I’ve known John for three years.
She’s done all her homework, so she can relax this evening.
I spent half my inheritance on travelling the world.
This is the man whose window you broke.
I open the book in my hands to a randomly selected page. I am excited to discover what gem of significance has been gifted me in this moment of seeking. Page 142, a third of the way into the story. The page number is circled in pencil; it is evidently a page that I have been drawn to before, many years ago, when studying Voss as a setwork in English 3. My eyes scan the black etches on the once-white page…
“Rhine Towers…German…Already the evening of his arrival…The sun, magnificently imperious…So he began.”
What you believe, The LightCatcher Chronicles
The text in Voss is sumptuous, mesmerizing. Instead of snatching fragments of word-bait like a frenzied school of fish, I find myself drawn into its continuity of meaning. I read more. And more. Until I find a home to settle into, a passage so rich in treasures that seem to belong to me that I am impelled to stay and linger.
“All that this man had not lived began to be written down. His failures took shape, but in flowers, and mountains, and in words of love, which he had never expressed and which, for that reason, had the truth of innocence. When his poem was written, it was burning on the paper. At last, he had done this. But although he was the stronger for it, he put his poem away, afraid that someone might accuse him of a weakness. Often he took it out, and if some of it had died, for then, there opened out of it other avenues of light. It was always changing, as that world of appearances which had given him his poem. Yet, its structure was unchanged.
So he was truly strong.”
A while back I remember watching an interview with Patrick White (1912-1980) done on the day following the announcement that Voss had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
White had never given an interview before, but accepted journalist
Mike Carlton into his Sydney home to be interviewed for ABC’s Four
“I hope my books are the crowning achievement of my career, not awards,” said a pensive Voss in response to the provocations by the journalist.
How, I wondered as I watched, could such a restrained and reticent man have given rise to an extended text of such exquisite sensuality?
But then that is often the artist’s way.
While journalists pummelled at his door, hoping to be the first to speak to the newly renowned writer, White took a sleeping pill and went to bed. “I get up very early, I’d had a hard day, and I wanted some sleep”.
The simplicity and practicality of White’s response in the face of a world demanding glitz and glamour, brings to mind a statement made by Benedictine monk, Brother David Steinl-Rast, in 1977.
“‘I do congratulate you for your remarkable achievement here in the wilderness,’ said Voss, whose wine was hot in his mouth. ‘And envy, too.'”
Dragon dreams of poison envy, The LightCatcher Chronicles