Friday, January 17, 2014

What Resides in the Gap between the Thought and the Word?

The most recent in my working my through Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish novels was City of Illusions.

In the Hainish tales many Hilfs (highly intelligent life forms) bespeak: they have the ability to mind-speak and/or mind-hear. And integral to this way of communicating is the collapsing of thought/speech such that lying is not possible. Between the thought and the spoken or written word there is a gap. And in that space a lie can be placed. But to communicate with just the mind, there is no gap, and thus no lie.

The Shing, the enemy of the novel, rule the very sparse population on Earth, perhaps because they may have the ability to lie even when bespeaking. They have one law: Reverence For Life.  Le Guin writes in the introduction that every novel offers the author a chance to do what they could not without it. And the Shing allowed her "the chance to argue inconclusively with the slogan 'reverence for life,' which by leaving out too much lets the lie get in and eat the apple rotten."

These explorations on communication, lying, and gaps also connect up nicely with an observation Le Guin makes in the introduction about the difference between the novel as conceived in the mind, the novel that one is finally able to produce, and how the two never merge.

I'm guessing that every writer feels that gap between the novel as envisioned in thought and the novel that gets written as those mind-scenes travel through the fingers (or through the vocal chords if you use a speech recognition program to write). But I hope we don't always feel that in that gap there resides a lie.

I hope our bodies also have a great deal of wisdom that they offer us as our thoughts move through us on their way to becoming physically present in the world.

I hope there is some electric something that allows the author's words to bridge the gap between their own mind and the minds of their readers, a sparking, sparkling arc connecting us.

I hope there is magic in the gaps. In the gaps between thoughts and words. Between people. Between worlds.

1 comment:

Mark Teats said...

Nice post. Sounds like a good read. In the past year (because my health has sucked) I've thought a lot about the connection between the mind and body.