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QUINTESSENCE

An Exactitude

There is so much communication and understanding beneath and apart from the substantiations of language spoken out or written down that language is almost no more than a compression, or elaboration - an exactitude, declared emphasis, emotion-in-syntax - not at all essential to the message. And therefore, as an elegance, as something almost superfluous, it is likely (because it is free to be so used) to be carefully shaped, to take risks, to begin and even prolong adventures that may turn out poorly after all - and all in the cause of the crisp flight and the buzzing bliss of the words, as well as their directive - to make, of the body-bright commitment to life, and its passions, including (of course!) the passion of meditation, an exact celebration, or inquiry, employing grammar, mirth, and wit in a precise and intelligent way. Language is, in other words, not necessary, but voluntary. If it were necessary, it would have stayed simple; it would not agitate our hearts with ever-present loveliness and ever-cresting ambiguity; it would not dream, on its long white bones, of turning into song.
- from "Three Songs, Number 3," Mary Oliver

As a writer, the medium of language, the building blocks and substance of words, is endlessly fascinating to me. This paragraph from the poet Mary Oliver is an homage to the human effort to domesticate the wild word; and in itself, a beautiful block of language. It would behoove the budding writer to read carefully her sentence structure, attend her use of parenthetical thought, sentence break, extended meaning, clarity, acuity, and sensuous, open possibilities - all in explanation of how language couples and divides to expand our thinking and take thought beyond given boundaries toward discernment. That thinking itself is a kind of fluid design that has at its core an inner symbolic landscape: the complexity of mammals attending to existence. Language as reflection, as action, as description, as framing that which we do not know or dream to know. Language was no doubt the first art, the first creation. An ever-evolving map of human consciousness as it stretches, like the weed or the necks of geese, toward the necessity of sun.

Enjoy what you speak today. Hold words like wine on the tongue. Write, and look at the shapes of meaning, the flows of thinking, the mystery in where these small strokes of creativity come and drift away to. Your mouth a brushstroke, your hands a drum. Let language tell you about you. Words contain more than the known vegetable, mineral world. They seep the quintessence of the mind. They create as they describe. Mirrors, lakes, panes of glass. Reflections of reflection. Lightning from thunder. May a new word find you today.

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