"Finally, among the drawbacks of illness as matter for literature there is the poverty of the language. English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache ... let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry. There is nothing ready made for him. He is forced to coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the other (as perhaps the inhabitants of Babel did in the beginning) so to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out. Probably it will be something laughable."
Virginia Woolf, "On Being Ill," 1926.
30 years ago he and I used to talk about archery: cams, anchor points, quivers, nocks, fletching, sights. When did we lose that language and acquire this new one? When did pain become the conduit for this, our new connection?
And my home is no different. The stack of medical papers for the last 2 years are the record of a broken ankle and subsequent surgeries, a sinus surgery, migraines, vision therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and a host of other procedures that are way too personal for sharing and way too boring to hear about. But here's the thing: our language changed. And then our children began to speak it.
It's the artist's role to question and then to respond. Answering the question is not necessarily our job, but when a question is living within, the response reverberates in all we observe.
If I tell you that you are looking at bone, but I show you shell or rock or wood, how long will it take your brain to know otherwise?
If I show you one bone, or two, will you believe that an entire collection is bone? If I show you a quilt, but it is covered in bone, and a litany of words and ideas that no one will discuss -- do you still see a quilt? Quilts are safe, do you still feel safe? Or do you feel flayed, do you feel raw, do you bring your own uncomfortable history to what you see:
I feel it. I speak it.