Risk meaning between experience and language.
To risk meaning nothing, what is really at risk?
Maybe this is inherent in the act of writing and creating, but this risk doesn't feel existential, as in I will stop breathing if I don’t ask and understand how and why I feel, see, write, create. But maybe I'm not risking enough? Or, am I used to toying with the possibility that what I create doesn't mean much of anything?
I often find myself wondering what I meant when I wrote something in the past. But I believe I risk more when I speak. The immediacy of the act of speech and the audience present represents a much greater risk for me because my reactions and emotions often betray my true feelings. I am what Susan Cain calls a “high reactive.” I have big feelings.
I've learned to mitigate the risk by not speaking before writing. Or, I've learned to risk less when I can write as I feel. But writing is where I've always found meaning. Even in the moment, as I record the words that scamper through my awareness from sensation to thought, not fully formed or making literal sense yet, I feel the meaning. I know something is there.
The same feeling occurs when I read a poem or stand before a painting and can't put the sensations into words: I feel the meaning, but can't explain it in words. I can't locate a direct translation from the experience to language.
So here, am I at risk of meaning nothing? If yes, consider what we have to gain when we operate within this realm between experience and language.
For Derrida, this is where we play. Same as those moments we lose awareness of ourselves in a game, in love, in ecstasy, in grief: we ourselves mean nothing because we are wholly immersed in the sensation, making no attempt to translate, focusing on nothing, only feeling.
It's not that we mean nothing, it's that the border between sensation and language, between experience and explanation, between a feeling and the understanding of it, are fluid.
We are unable to define, or unaware of the difference between ourselves and the sensations we experience.
Risk everything to find those moments and remind ourselves of what it feels like to be lost in sensation, to be unable to frame an experience in words, to feel the world, really feel it.
We have become so enamored with the why and the how, when we should be spending more time simply experiencing the moment and allowing the mystery to linger.