online: 8 november 2005
modified: 7 november 2005

5 november 2005 what is thought? How to speak poetry?

21:13 ...there is no isolated individual nor is there a social group (apart from the people who compose it) - both individual and group consist only of interactions of the one with the other, or of the many as being ones - and of each one as being many..., that is not really what i thought as i read the beginning of The Dogma of Christ by Eric Fromm* - what i wrote in the psychology bookshop (Karnac Books, one of the good things of this locality, Swiss Cottage) was this:

'as i began to read it i feel suddenly (re: there being no individual [person] nor social psychology - only the interaction of the two) what a stunning or convincing idea!

and each, i thought a little later, is destroyed by being described - no wonder i'm dissatisfied with how i am writing this...

yet i was and am exceedingly pleased by the thought.. and by the rare atmosphere (of psychology itself, even of mind) in that bookshop. Mind, more present than in philosophy, more present even than in an art gallery, or in a church, or even in theology [though i never read it].

Which led me to revive the question 'what is thought?' (could thought be supernatural?) questions i've not known philosophers to ask (not materialistic philosophers anyway)...

01:09 i'm conscious now of not yet having written these words aright, and of trying nevertheless to write without distortion huge but subtle thoughts of mind, of words, of theories of mind, and of person/persons (or self/other as Edwin*** called it, this indescribable uandm)...

...and yes there is another thought of this day and night that calls to be written - a recurring thought about the reading and the speaking of Shakespeare's poetry and plays (or anyone's)...

...listening just now to actors reading Shakespeare's poems i was yet again put off by their enacting emotions that screen listeners from the words themselves, forcing us to accept the actor's interpretations... But the last actor John Gielgood (speaking Prospero's farewell to his craft) did so without emotion but as music, extending each vowel (or some of them) until the speech became song while each word and its meaning could be heard (without emphasis) uninterpreted, as Shakespeare left it!

Somehow (i may not be able to say how) this observation is related to Eric Fromm's thought about there being no individual, nor group, apart from the interdependency of person-and-persons, self/other. To speak poetry with enacted emotion is to build a wall between writer and listeners, to replace writer by actor. What a presumption!

So what is the remedy, for actors, fearful of leaving listeners uninstructed - of leaving the words to exist uninterpreted?

Let go, leave the centre empty, trust the words and their sounds and their rhythms and your voice to speak them as music, each sound fully spoken as if to an intelligence other than one's own. And, in speaking thus, to give the writer, the words, and that intelligence the opportunity. and the time, to exist, unexpectedly! What a gift.

*Eric Fromm, The Dogma of Christ, Owl Books, New York, 2001.

**Edwin Schlossberg

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