Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reaching Out

Attempting to communicate is an integral part of our experience.  We are born, grow, and die, never quite saying what we want to say.  Our language is powerful and astonishing for its range of possibilities.  That being said, we still feel its inadequacies sharply.  Language is in many ways a central part of the sublime, because language is insufficient to communicate what we feel, including the sublime.  Language is also one of the ways we conceptualize the world.  I have had the experience of both attempting to remember something and not finding it (Tip of the Tongue Syndrome - Notice that we created an expression to tell what this feeling is) as well as just finding that I had no word for what I wanted to say.

Language is almost a sublime experience in itself.  Language is ever expanding and there are more words in our language than I will ever know.  I have also tried to learn other languages and there are definitely some sublime moments when you see all the facets of the language spread out before you and realize that language is far more complex than you had realized.  Language, even all the standard languages for speaking on earth are still insufficient.  If we really tried we could maybe create a language that would tell more, combining posture, sign language, and intonation as well as words to add emotional and social value to our speech.  I have had the experience of emotion communicating more through music than through language, but it is harder to communicate ideas with music.  This actually makes me think of Swift's Gulliver's Travels which I have read for one of my classes.  In Laputa one of the scientists is trying to have people communicate with objects instead of words, and while the idea is ridiculous there are no doubt advantages to that form of communication as well.  I have been known to draw examples both on paper and from other objects in order to communicate.

I have been discussing communication because of my own attempts to communicate lately.  I have been sending out emails to various Emily Dickinson scholars, attempting to get them to comment on my blog, as yet I have no responses.  If you too would like to attempt communication, I recommend examining the scholars registry at EDIS (Emily Dickinson International Society).  The registry provides information on each of the scholars, including a way to contact them, when you click on their names.  Also, EDIS is hosting a conference at Oxford in August, and they have a number of speakers listed who are not on their registry, so I recommend attempting to connect with them as well, especially if they will be discussing a subject that you are interested in.

To be fair I have only communicated with them in the last week, and most are probably busy.  I have also been considering the issue of much of the scholarly world's feelings about new media; it is possible that many of them are simply not interested.  So I will continue to hope for a big response from someone who is in the field.

Andrew Morris

This article is part of a continuing theme on Emily Dickinson, modern media, and the sublime, if you would like to know more read here.


  1. Andrew, my favorite part of this post is the picture. I think it illustrates perfectly the "sublime" form of language you develop further on. What could be a more sublime form of communication that with deity? Very clever.

  2. Thanks. I also thought the fact that they are not quite touching also lends itself to my discussion that language is a flawed method of communication.