Chop wood, carry water

So I was talking with the wife this morning (well, technically yesterday morning at this point) as to why it’s tough for me to talk and write. And it is tough for me, no matter how easy I can make it look.

Remember if you are just seeing what I write, those are beads on a string. You see them all at once, or in a swift one-after-another kind of way. That says absolutely nothing about how long it took for me to string them.

When I stop talking, it’s quiet in my head. I don’t hear my own voice in my head, just nattering away, unless I make a conscious effort to rehearse something to say. Well, that’s not completely true. Frequently it’s just a roaring noise, less like a seashell held up to your ear and more like your head stuck inside an enormous seashell. There might be parts of words or the occasional word-like sound audible against the background, but I’m not sure that counts.

I don’t know whether this is common or uncommon. I suspect it’s one of those things people just don’t talk about much. We just assume the inside of everyone else’s head is just the same as our own. It’s the kind of thing that gets you into your thirties without having heard the word synaesthesia when that word pretty much defines how you see the world. (I’m not talking about myself here, but about someone close to me that thought that kind of crosstalk between the senses was the norm.) I hear talk about people’s internal narrator and have only recently started to wonder why mine’s so quiet. I suspect he’s just looking out of my eyes in horror at what he sees me doing….

Anyway. Stringing the words together is tough. I prefer writing to speaking because it’s easier to make sense when I can spend some time on it, go backwards and forwards, skip around, delete, insert, and paint with bold and italics. It’s a lot like sculpting. You throw a mound of muck on the wheel, you squish it until it’s soft, you squeeze and shape, you pinch some off and throw it away, you add some more, you smooth it out, you spin it until it’s symmetrical, paint it with glaze, and then upload it to the internet to bake. And then you wash your hands.

It’s really hard to do that on the fly.

Analogy and metaphor are pretty much my only tools here, so I’m going to trot out a few more.

My native language is the language of grunts and gestures and facial expressions that cavemen used to communicate with each other when they were out hunting and trying not to make too much noise. Tim Allen’s old stand-up comedy routines have it pretty much nailed for me. Not that I really see myself as a testosterone-drenched thug. I just speak and understand that language really really well. If you need more than that from me, I’m going to have to do some work.

If your language center is a room in your house, mine is an outbuilding somewhere out on the grounds and I keep forgetting where the key is. It takes me a while to get out there, find the light switch, blow the dust off of everything, and make the place comfy. If this room is a workshop for most people, filled with whatever little tools for sculpting and whittling and such, and for the high-grade professionals, all the best in tablesaws and routers and mitre-boxes and drill presses and such…I just have the chainsaw.

I’m sure you’ve seen the work, if only on television, of the kind of artist that starts with some old log and whittles something fairly clever (or at least recognizable) with an old diesel chainsaw. You look at the piece, you look at the rustic buffoon with the chainsaw, and you justifiably think you’ve seen something amazing. Take away the chainsaw, however, and you just see a man holding a wooden sculpture, and you think, that piece sure could use the benefit of a smaller chisel here and there and quite certainly needs a happy half-hour with some 100-grit sandpaper….

Sorry. I just have the chainsaw. And it’s heavy. And my arms get tired.


January 13, 2008 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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