Tuesday, July 19, 2005

a quest for an undeceived voice
"You see why I read Vicino with such eagerness. His voice is wry and undeceived, but he has hope. He loves the company of other people."
from The Society of Others by William Nicholson.


Here's something I hope: that if you know me, you know why I liked reading those lines.

I like the notion that words ... well, more than words ... ideas ... can be consumed with eagerness.

I'm drawn to the concept ... more than that ... the attainment ... of a 'wry and undeceived voice' ... although it sometimes seems that untangling yourself from all the gentle systems of deception in life also involves finding yourself falling out of their safety nets. (I went and looked up 'deceive' and found out that it has roots in a Latin word that, apparently, contained concepts of ensaring, so the 'net' connection is possibly present in the word itself).

Anyway, I sometimes start to wonder whether hope itself isn't just a convenient tangle of deceptions, carefully designed to sustain me ... part of the complicated set of tricks played on all of us by our mental faculties, because, for some reason, these sets of chemicals we call 'ourselves' are keen on perpetuating their combined existence in what we call 'life'. (I have been well trained in thoughts like this by a lovable, local cynic).

Interestingly, 'hope' is, in fact, the name for a 'functional programming language' designed by R. M. Burstall, D. B. MacQueen and D. T. Sanella at the University of Edinburgh in 1978. Apparently you can buy a book about it. It's called 'Functional Programming with Hope.' Anyway. Its existence kind of seems like an uncanny metaphor for this line of reasoning ... 'hope' as a system of programmed thoughts that help us to function.

So I remember smiling to myself when I read Nicholson's lines and realised that there was at least one person who thought that a wry lack of deception and some kind of hope were possible, simultaneously: that maybe we can fall out of the net and land in hope.

And I enjoy the company of other people, so I liked that part, too.
Basically, I read those few lines, and, in them, I guess I recognised ... well ... not so much 'myself' as 'an image of how I want to be seen'. So I decided to use part of it for my blog title.

But, as you'll probably notice, I changed it.

I changed it because I started thinking about the impossibility of an undeceived voice. For one thing, to be a 'voice' at all, it has to use language, which is full of all kinds of limitations and deceptions ... so, in a way, an 'undeceived voice' is a tautology, and you're screwed from the outset. And language is just one of our systems of knowing and being in the world that relies on our abilities to select and modify information until it resembles something we can a) understand and b) don't have to totally remodel ourselves in order to absorb. How can we know we're not simply inventing system upon system of deception for our own living convenience?

So saying that I'm on a quest for an 'undeceived voice' is maybe just another way of saying that I'm on a quest for 'truth'.

Saying that I write with a 'deceived voice' is perhaps another way of acknowledging that the process is complicated ... and, maybe, impossible.

Do you know these lines?

Oh, the distance is not do-able in these bodies of clay, my brother.
Oh, the distance makes me uncomfortable ... guess it's natural to feel this way, oh ...
Are we locked into these bodies?
Are we anything at all?
Let's hold out for something sweeter.
Spread your wings and fly ...
Live 'The Distance'

So here's something else I hope: that, if you know me, you know I'm a fan of impossible journeys. Because maybe the impossibilities are within us. But maybe there's a way to untangle the nets. Maybe there's something more than a body of clay. Maybe we fall out of it all and land in an 'undeceived voice with hope'.

And, if there is, I'd like to do it in the company of others.

So thanks for reading. Hope you feel like you saw something new. Hope you have something to say. Hope you come back.

11 Comments:

Blogger Nimue said...

Hey There, I'm always surprised that people relate hope and happiness as illusions. It might be related to fact that pastels are viewed as insincere and black is always ultra-cool. Hope is as valid, if not more so, then despair. Despair is the absense of hope, just like black is the absence of light. So aim so for the middle, say a light mossy green, with flashes of aquamarine. Hope is necessary because life is more fun when there are good things. Bring a flashlight for dark patches, and keep working with your bright brain.

6:25 pm  
Blogger k-girl said...

flashlights for the dark patches ... :-) nice.

And I agree: I don't think hope and happiness are necessarily illusions. They can be incredibly practical, for one thing. Like breathing. That's practical.

Despair: that's not quite so practical. Actually, it's fairly anti-practical. So, yeah ... because I seem to have this aversion to believing or accepting things just because they are convenient or practical, I am keen to find out how far I can untangle 'illusions' and still hang onto hope.

"Hope is a good thing," says that guy in Shawshank Redemption. "Maybe the best of things." And I do agree. But hope vested in the wrong things, or temporary things, can totally floor you when the basis gets ripped away. I guess I just want to be ahead of the game ... ;-)

Anyway. Now I really am rambling! And looking for mossy green ;-)

8:06 pm  
Blogger k-girl said...

p.s. how do I allow people to post anonymous comments?

8:06 pm  
Blogger zzymurgy said...

Hey k-girl,

Go to settings, then comments, then change 'who can comment' to 'anyone'.

You'll probably want to incorporate some flickr features, like the badge or zeitgeist, which you can slide into the sidebar. Let me know if you want a hand.

Congrats on the new blog. If anyone has anything worth saying to the entire world, it's you.
You might like Douglas Adams' definition of a website:

"a website is a wonderful new invention that allows people you neither know nor care about to inform you what they had for breakfast this morning without all that tedious mucking about in the postal system."

10:02 am  
Blogger Scott said...

Greetings from Kingston, Washington, USA, just came across your blog.

Scott

12:20 pm  
Blogger Scott said...

Can I add your blog to my "blogs I read" list?

2:30 pm  
Anonymous Bru said...

Ehy k.!
This is one hell of a subtitle you have :)

It always amazes me how you can discover people bit by bit by jumping from flickr to blogs to whatever.

Next time I'll even comment the post. Promise ;)

7:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should read Dewey ... the whole pragmatist thing could be useful to you. (That's John Dewey, the philosopher, not Melvil Dewey the library catalogue guy!) "Experience and Nature" is the book that springs to mind.

10:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey my k-girl. If I know you, you're not so much searching for truth, or your undeceived voice, as much as you're searching for understanding. This is much as I was a few years back, and in the end I don't think I found understanding, I'll never understand why she is the way she is, but I learned acceptance and that helped me to move on and forget about the things I don't and can't understand. You are one of the most intelligent people I know, and considering the company we keep, that's quite a statement, and your intelligence means you want to keep seeking and learning, for you to not understand something is not acceptable. I trully hope you find what you're looking for, even id you're not really sure what you're looking for yet. That and a car.
Old Man.

2:55 pm  
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