Mystic and Membrane: Vicissitudes of Language

Words are strange sound symbols we can’t live with and can’t live without. They are and aren’t. They bridge us over to one another and block our way. We forever hazard mistaking word for object, solidifying a word or idea into a specific form or image, making us forget that the universe is forever changing and words today don’t mean what they meant yesterday or what they’ll mean tomorrow—let alone in a thousand years. Words are life rings to which we cling; attire with which we clothe our psychic bodies; weapons, shields, and armor with which we go into daily battle.

Sicilian Water Skippers

When language falls away, like a veil or mist, we’re faced with the naked world around us, harsh and beautiful. To arrive at pure presence in pure reality, bursting through the membranes of our delusions (to suggest Zen satori here), if such an achievement is possible, is to have undertaken the longest, most difficult journey to a place that, ironically, is all around and within us.

Language may be the most troublesome membrane we grapple with in an effort to break through to reality. Thus mystics, poets, and metaphors are born. The mystic-poet who merges with or intuits the deep nature of reality then returns to tell about it, may return with words that merely allude to the experience, thus pointing more to the mind of the mystic than to ultimate reality. The mystic may still be tainted or inspired by it, but once the mystic poet begins to place words one after the other, during later moments of inspiration, new experiences occur and new realities are born.

Language is perhaps our most dangerous friend, since new collections of words may subvert our experience of reality. Still, such language, regardless of its failure to take us to the heart of an exclusive reality, may seduce us into strange, beautiful, soul-altering experience and enliven us in a potentially mind-deadening world. As long as words—tough, inspiriting, slippery words—take us to new and challenging places, our picture of reality deepens and expands. Reality depends on us to make sound symbol journeys into the intimate body of the unknown.

Copyright 2018 by Rick Clark (previously published in CORRelations: Newsletter of Center for Object Relations)

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Declaration of Healthy Intimate Relationship Needs

To feel acknowledged and appreciated for what one is, who one is, and what one does and not just in the passing, under-the-breath, mundane way.

To be respected for hard work, worldly knowledge, and achievements and as a human being, man or woman, hard worker, senior, learned person, leader, artist, dream-fulfiller, innovative or productive person, etc.

To be understood, to have one’s feelings understood, or at least to feel the effort another makes to understand.

To be responded to, not with silence, but with a full, thoughtful, and delving response. To be soothed if necessary. To have both pain and joy responded to accordingly. Not to be taken for granted.

To be cared about (or for, if and when necessary) as much as is possible or reasonable. To have an interest taken in one’s life, work, pursuits, struggles, and successes.

To feel one is needed and that what one has to give is valuable and of use. To receive credit or acknowledgment for these offerings.

To be known and remembered. To be heard and understood (not criticized, judged, prescribed, or directed). To be asked questions until a full understanding is reached.

To be apologized to, as necessary.

To receive affection and tenderness.

Most importantly: To be communicated with clearly and carefully at all times, especially about all of the above. No relationship is more important than the central love relationship, materially, emotionally, and socially. Nothing should get in the way of clear, careful, well-meaning communication.

Note: This is a lot to need, yet the fulfillment of these needs, the humble effort to fulfill these needs, is the basic prescription for a fully blossomed, finely tuned, healthy intimate love relationship. Also, it’s necessary to have the courage to admit that responding to needs is difficult or requires work and to understand the difference between love and mere dependence.

Copyright 2017 by Rick Clark