Jan Zwicky, the female Canadian philosopher I am only getting acquainted to by now said that some questions are unanswerable by words. They cannot be articulated. An example of such question is this: “What is the sound of rain?” Another question, which is closer to my heart is “What is a brain zap?” A “brain zap” is a common term people with depression use to describe a symptom (or is it a side effect of psychiatric meds?) that is difficult to articulate. I honestly think the best way for someone to understand it is to experience it themselves. I tried articulating it once bt all I could do was this: “Our nervous system has electricity right? Imagine that for a slight second, the electricity was gone. That’s a brain zap.”
Answering these questions using words is difficult. We could try byt we can only do so by metaphors. But even those metaphors don’t do the entire job. It is the reader’s resonance to them that does the job but not perfectly. And so we can say that a job of a poet is to articulate those answers that cannot be articulated or eludes words. Perhaps, most obviously, in the context of a relationship, the occurrence and frequencies of such unarticulated answers are heightened and their relevance and importance have never been greater. Both partners have questions of their own—reflecting their inner struggles— questions they can’t even articulated to themselves but whose answers are begging to come out. And then there are those questions about the relationship that both partners share—questions that elude an answer not necessarily because the questions are poetic but because the answers are located farther into the future. Is there any other place we can be so inarticulate than in a relationship?
I feel like it is so easy to just follow tradition, impulse, what we are used to, just to keep the wheel going, just to cope with the day in a relationship. To face the questions we cannot articulate and to try to even answer them requires a lot of courage. But those who do face them—or just acknowledge their existence—and respect their power, I think will have a richer experience all through out.
But sometimes, these inarticulate questions, these questions that eludes words, whose answer are only felt—sometimes, if not most of the time, they do not require an answer. What they are simply asking for is for us to learn to be comfortable not articulating certain things— at least for now. They teach us to be comfortable with not knowing, to live and flourish in that space between question and answer and to let go of the need to have an answer now or at all.
There are things I wanted to tell you. There are things I wanted to ask. But I couldn’t tell them now. I couldn’t ask them now. Could you stay with me until I understand them myself enough for me to share them with you?