To wound and exclude

Marilena Senia, The Open Wound I

In speaking, listening and writing to each another, we are exegetes, hermeneutes of the spoken and written word. We interpret words, we assign meaning, we tempt intentions, we evaluate, praise, judge and condemn based on the interpretion we give to the words of others. Less rarely than to our own.

We read each other in generosity and with grace or in resentment and bad faith.

We are patient in reaching our conclusions, secretly hoping to be wrong, or we are hasty in passing judgment, overzealous in ministering to the dopamine receptors of our self-validation.

Language can heal but it can also wound. One word can spill more blood than a thousand cuts. Grammar is self-replicating and diversity-inducing, but it is built on exclusion. More words can help remove ambiguity, but more words can also bring more suffering.

There is a word in every pain and a pain in every word. To utter a word is to take a huge risk. We often forget about the cost of bringing a new word into the word, of enlisting a breath of air, a flick of the pen, to give rise and life to a new word.

Rediscovering the sacramental power of the verb, the verbum, the awe and trembling attending the articulated sound, the nuclear reactor buried deep within even the monosyllable – is a gesture of the soul that has the power to heal wounds and tear down the walls of contempt and resentment.

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