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The subject reports “a multi-directional effusiveness, an avaricious over-seeking of meta-meaning, and an at-times overwhelming sense of the abundance of interconnectedness of ideas, in which each thought lurks in the shadows of another’s metaphor, and springs forth when approached, hoping to find its place within the whole.”

Diminished ability to punctuate and form distinct sentences and pararaphs is also suggested.


The subject is experiencing a periodic flare-up of chronic Editor’s Block, loosely defined as a mind-numbing inability to agree with oneself on a final draft, or even an intermediate one.

Treatments Recommended

  1. Eat an unknown variety of apple.
  2. Feel a light drizzle on one’s face.
  3. Run one’s fingertips across the branch of a rosemary bush and inhale deeply every five or ten minutes until only the memory of scent remains. (Or until the hands are washed — it is flu season.)
  4. Listen carefully to the crunch of leaves underfoot.
  5. Look away from the computer screen, and wordlessly observe scenes like this one:
More compelling than a thesaurus -- sometimes

More compelling than a thesaurus -- sometimes


The subject will return in a few days to report on the efficacy of the suggested treatments.

The tonic effects of time should not be discounted in this case.


Am I too word-oriented in my exploration of creativity?  Why do I place such an emphasis on writing, poetry, and language in general?

No matter what we each choose as the preferred medium of our creative expression, we all use language. We all live by language.

Language is the nexus through which most (but not all) thought passes as it transits from mind to mind.  It is the standard intermediate form, and preserves the greatest store of human experience.

Words are probably the most accessible medium that artists and creative thinkers share, and experimenting with words is the most effective way to learn patterns and behaviors and tactics that can then be applied to work in other media. If I was writing about creativity using only terms and processes specific to electronic music, it would be more difficult to translate those ideas directly to sculpture or photography.

This bias is not mine alone: Our computers have keyboards — word capture devices — not paint brushes, uncarved marble, or drumsticks. To work with ideas, and exchange ideas, inevitably and unavoidably, means to work with words.  A greater facility with human language can enhance our work in nearly every domain of human endeavor.

Languages and written words are the jars into which we pour our ideas and perceptions, to store them away, or take them to the market, or mix them with other ideas to share at a table with friends.

Poets and philosophers and linguists and inter-cultural explorers of all kinds discover or invent more intricate containers, or repurpose old ones, or assemble them in exquisite and every-changing arrays, all in hopes of capturing everything between earth and sky and beyond — the totality of human existence.

And that’s the ultimate problem: not all of life will fit in such figurative jars. Much of it doesn’t.

Yes, I love words, but I am equally enthusiastic about what I refer to as the “non-verbal” — the encounters for which words are insufficient. I don’t simply mean those moments when the words we know as individuals, or our own abilities to articulate, are lacking. I’m talking about experiences for which our shared human language — all human language in aggregate — is inadequate.

There is no jar big enough to capture the precipitation of even one thunderstorm. We can catch a little of it. We can drink from it, be rehydrated by it, be cleansed by it. But no matter how well-crafted or expansive the jar, its contents are no substitute for running through the thunder and the rain, the irrepressible storm of life.

As we walk home soaking wet, language and words and poetry are the drops of water we wring from our clothing.

As we seek the uncontainable, the ineffable, and the transcendent, we use words to find our way, and to see where we’ve been.