Love! Love! Love! by Jocelyn Ting

Piles of love poetry from a young Jocelyn

“Do so then my clever student.  Tell me of love…  To attempt to describe it will drive a woman mad.  That is what keeps poets scribbling endlessly away.  If one could pin it to paper all complete, the others would lay down their pens.  But it cannot be done.” – Vashet, Wise Man’s Fear  

I carry on the long scroll of scribbling poets. We are in the business of describing the ineffable. We are translators chasing 7.4 billion marks, each with shifting connotations, our perspectives colored with undulating patterns. A classic example of this problem is how we perceive colors. How do I explain what I see when I look at a “blue” shirt? Science tells us that my “blue” is probably different than yours, but we do not have many more words to describe colors – cool, sad, calm, turquoise? We have other colors, sometimes emotions and temperatures, but those words also create different feelings for each person. See the conundrum? 

Music is one language that is universal. It at once carries more meaning than words while floating over any glitches in translation. I do not glean much from my friend telling me they are tired, but I feel exactly the emotion of the musician as his accordion strains out one last dissonant chord. My French horn teacher phrases a passage and I play it back almost exactly the same. I am able to reflect her message exactly, even if we describe the music with different words. She tells me the note is “full” and I tell her it reminds me of a quote about learning to love food. The music she has described in words is an imperfect translation; I cannot physically feel what her body is feeling when she demonstrates the note. Nevertheless, the essence of the thought transfers through the music and the quote acts as a key, compiling the knowledge into my own language. As I play I remember how I felt and she beams as she feels the note is “full”, just as she asked.

So it seems I may be writing this blog in vain.  Perhaps I should compose a symphony instead, of frustration and modulations as it jumps from instrument to instrument.  You may be wondering how I, as a writing intern, can seem to have such little faith in words.  It is not a lack of faith, just love for a wily child.   Words are beautiful because they are so untethered, so disregardful of our original intentions,  like street art made of sand.  We may never master words, but to my clever student, my love-struck poet, do not despair.  

“[T]here are other ways to understanding!” he shouted, laughing like a child. He threw both arms to the cloudless arch of sky above us, still laughing. “Look!” he shouted tilting his head back. “Blue! Blue! Blue!”  -Elodin, Wise Man’s Fear

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