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A Word In


This short is embedded in NPR story about an excerpt of Mark Doty’s recent book debating words with Yusef Komunyakaa. Do we impair our ability to see when we label? Do we impair our ability to perceive once we’ve settled on a label? Once we think we know it’s an uphill to get back to the state of knowing less.

Does a word make a distance? Can we magically think that we can step out of scene so much to not create an observer effect, a bias, and curate what is, what isn’t subjective, if we just don’t say a word? To communicate is a decision. A poem is the result of decisions of drawing close enough, if not to whisper than within that range in which we greet one another with a bow, handshake, hug, punch, or knife slash. What you do within that distance, approach closer or leverage further apart is not the domain of the word or wordless but the choice afterwards.

Words allow us to understand what we see, a short-hand for all the knowledge behind that word or retrievable with that word. If we see arch, we see stone or architecture, but if we recognize something more particular in Qanatir. That identifier allows us to go deeper into context, history, significance. The shape of the word alone with a Qa to start indicates it can be Arabic or Inuktitut, or a misspelling. Once we have a word, we have a indication of how to focus search for more. Arcades of recycled Roman artifacts, near and around the Dome of the Rock. A word is a skeleton key to all kinds of locks that an unlabelled scene or image doesn’t have. With that word, one can dismiss, shrug away as not one’s domain and be done with communicating and perceiving.

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