Sunday, September 9, 2012

The postures of language

An image came to me while I was sitting this morning, of a sort of diamond array, with a shiny point near the top of the figure – this array represented the energies of language we use around each of these body centers – right where the third eye would be, which sparkled and danced, but didn't extend very far at all. These were the highfalutin words, the $2 or $100 words, depending on the era, words not well understood by most, but used to claim membership in the elite group which owns the vocabulary of intellect and power. Then just below, circling the mouth, a much broader ring, the first facet of the diamond, where the proper words for ordinary discourse swim around, occasionally flashing a bit of color or nuance here and there, but most reserved. Then around the belly, the widest circle of all, the words of emotion and feeling, of bodily functions and messy lives, understood and used by all from time to time, but vastly underrepresented in the speech of those who use the sparkly head-trip words. Just below that largest ring, starting the taper towards the bottom, the girdle of the loins, the crude and soft, or cruder and sharper words of the impolite, words never spoken in public by those who hope to rise above the solar plexus of word circles. And below the loins, the unnoticed incidentals, the fillers and helpers completely ignored most of the time, but essential to keeping the diamond properly proportioned. Then I began to imagine the bodily stances that went with each constellation of words – the still "talking head" of the intellectual, the false smiles and dissimulations of the media commentators using most of the mouthy words, the simple straightforward posture of the heart-speakers, and then I saw the parallel between the hands-on-hips tellin' off a no-good with just the right cuss words of the belly-belt words, the slow swivel back in of the hips for the really dirty words, and the nimble footwork being done constantly by those stalwart little words at the bottom.