THINGS, ACTIONS and EXPERIENCES

 

    “So the universe “eyes” in the same way a tree “apples” and space “stars.”

    (You can always turn a noun into a verb because every thing is also an event

     a happening. Houses are “housing.”)”

                                                                  --Alan Watts,

                from Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal, p.65.

 

Intellectually, and grammatically, people tend to think of nouns as objects just sitting there doing nothing, while verbs, on the other hand, are the busy bees of language.

 

To grasp the basics of grammar we agree to this, and yet to further understand language and how it reflects actual living experiences, we are wise to look beyond the limits of these labels.

 

As a glass is lifted, although “lift” is the verb, the glass itself is in motion, and hence participating in the very action this verb exhibits; and without some “thing” to be lifted, the verb “lift” becomes an idle verb, a supposed action with nothing to act upon or with.

 

Akin to the chicken-egg, acorn-oak tree “which came first question,” verbs and nouns work in living harmony.

 

The poets who write something like:

                                                              glass blue-tinted graceful-lift

 

though seeming to defy the rules of grammar and individual words, perhaps come closer to the true experience of what it’s like to lift a glass without much attempt to define that, instead, simply enjoying the experience.

 

If the glass is blue-tinted or the lifting graceful, then what we call “adjectives” are added to this collective descriptive process.

 

Science tells us that even inanimate objects are busy moving around on a cellular level, actually energy-patterns that have somehow agreed to bond into what appears to us as a solid form. Thus, even an immobile object such as a “rock” (grammatically a “noun”,) is active (though invisibly to the naked-eye,) and perhaps active enough to have what animistic cultures would call “a rock spirit”.

 

Chinese picture-writing expresses the verb “to speak” as a combination of a “swinging door or gate” and a “mouth”. A person opens or closes the mouth when speaking so the definition is apt. As far as English grammar is concerned, this Chinese “verb” is made up of two nouns “door” and “mouth” that only imply the action. So who invented grammar anyway?

 

Though an essential part of speaking and writing logically and accurately, the rigidity of grammar softens when it comes to pictures, images and the actual experiences of which we use nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. in an attempt to describe.

 

A sharpening and heightening of the use of words occurs when the poet explores more deeply the link between the verbal tools and the actual experience attempting to be conveyed. The written form then becomes yet another experience—not just the words, not just the experience described, but all of these combined and born anew on the page, computer-screen, or from the invisible energy-patterns emanating from the opening and closing of our

door-mouths as “spoken word, speech, or voice.”

 

-- Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)

 

PPA welcomes submissions to "Poetic Nectar: Poets' Essays on Poetry".
Essay topics are limited to 'the craft of poetry and poetry related activities,' and should be of a constructive and positive nature that encourages writers and readers at all levels.

Email submissions to Mankh
Or mail to: Walter E. Harris III

PO Box 562

Selden, NY 11784

Please include name, phone number, and very brief (1-2 lines) bi
o.

Performance Poets Association®

Performance Poets Association®

•  Annual Literary Reviews 

available at all events

All rights revert to the individuals published. These works may not be reproduced without permission of the author. These pages may not be reproduced without the express written permission of Performance Poets Association, and may not be stored in any electronic data retrieval system.