Saturday, November 1, 2008

Playing with Pasta

Well, not so much playing as using it as an analogy.

I was having tea while visting a friend this afternoon when conversation turned to music and whether someone who knows music parses sound into notes instinctively the same way my friend, an artist, can parse shades and colors into component pieces that add up to the whole. She sees the whole and can see inside enough to see the pieces that come together to create it. We mulled this for a while, the similarities between music and visual art--for the one who knows how, the vision is through the whole to the inside structure that created it.

This got me thinking about writing and reading poetry and other forms of written expression. I realized that for me, the process with this format is reversed. I hear the pieces, I hear the structure, and a whole is created. By the rubbing of syllables, by the procession of patterns, images juxtaposed, and rhythmic rituals, something Other is created--a larger whole. I start, though, with the pieces...the words themselves. How they encounter one another in my mouth or ears when read aloud by me or someone esle, or how they interact when read silently in my mind, builds the larger picture.

This moved our conversation into the role voice plays in helping the words find one another and welcome each other's company...or not. I was struggling to explain my meaning and ended up referencing pasta.

Sometimes, when I hear things read aloud, the words are cut off from one another, not in relationship yet, simply occupying space next to each other. Crunchy raw pasta in the box.

Sometimes, the voice overpowers the words, running them into one another, coming on too strong. The mushy, sticky with gluten, uni-pasta of overboiling.

Then you have al dente when each piece is still itself, each word its own syllables, but flexible, chewy almost. It can bump into other pieces of pasta and you can feel the give and take, it neither falls to pieces nor adheres inextricably. It is filling and substantive... its best pasta-ness being drawn forth.

I think the voice/outside the mind delivery of Word or poetry can achieve the same thing...Expression that satisfies by honoring the fullness of language's capacities...


I'm making home-made mac and cheese for dinner, by the way. Tomatoes and sauteed onions are mixed in for a kick. A limerick, I think, would be the equivilent. Predictable...but often with a twist.

1 comment:

Donald said...

I recently had someone speak about a talk I had given at a retreat. As a fellow organizer, he had read a final draft of the talk and admitted to both liking it and profiting from the reading. Then during the retreat he got to hear me deliver what I had written. The same words he had already read had a different effect when I read them. He confided at the end of the retreat day his own surprise that he had been in tears at times during my reading.

I think you can understand better than most, friend, because of the experience of reading the Word at services. Talk about crunchy pasta simmering to al dente perfection, eh?