Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This has touched thy lips

The peanut butter cookie crumbles were oven-hot. As all too usual, my impulse was to put them to my mouth, which I did. If burning one's finger's is unpleasant, burning one's tongue is even more so, both for the pain and the reduction of pleasure as tasting is lost--ironic, then, that if something is too hot to handle, I quickly put it to my lips, my tongue.

Maybe that is the writer's impulse--the hot things, the hard things--they feel bad peripherally, so we put them to our lips, our tongues. Isn't the mouth even more sensitive than the calloused, over-washed hand, isn't the risk greater? I realize writers use instruments--pens, pencils, keyboards--hand items--to do their craft, but writing begins with the heart-mind-tongue. [And I realize that there is a speech/writing relationship/difference that deserves discussion in itself--will you accept for now that words are words and allow the play between oral and written--will you accept the blur term, verbal?]

It brings me to Isaiah chapter six. The prophet receives his calling in the divine presence and realizes he is mortal:

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Curious that what unsettles Isaiah is the imperfection of speech, of language--symbolized by the lips. This realization invites divine intervention:

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

I think of the unclean--the cliches we have spoken and written and continue to speak and write (and worse, think), especially the coarse cliches and languages of totality, violence, and demand. Maybe it is the acceptance and saying of the hard, the painful, the sacrificing, the purifying things that makes us write and can make us writers, that allows us to say, as Isaiah:

Here am I; send me.


Blogger grar870 said...

I like your example of the writer's impulse and Isaiah's contents.

12:29 PM  

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