Frustration, Breakdown of Language, and I Even Mention Freud

I just don't think that I'm meant to be sleeping well anymore, and so this may end up being quite long-winded. I've been slacking off anyway. We have been given a frustrating place to call home and frustrating tools to deal with it.

This, I think, sums up this semester so far in a way that will be better off left alone than with whatever I tag onto it, even though I will inevitably grind the idea so far into the ground in hopes of trying to explain what I feel that every portion of meaning will be lost. Hence part of my frustration (which at this point feels rather circular).

We are all two parts, I think, and this frustrates me as well. We are empirical, in that we have arms and legs and we need to eat and if we don't have water we'll die and we CAN die and we can make more, slightly altered versions of ourselves with the help from somebody else. We can be classified into genus and species and named with fancy Latin words. We can perceive rapidly vibrating particles of matter and air and whatever else it is as color and sound. This portion of us is quantifiable. This part of us is purely animal and can be reasoned and proven through the scientific method and stands up very well in academic papers and in even things like Evolutionary Theory.

But we are something else, too, and I hate to use the word "soul" because it is such a loaded term (everything about this sentence frustrates me) but there is part of us that is most definitely not empirical. Knowledge is empirical, but we have the ability to discern. We can believe in something and we can doubt. We can listen to the cadence of wind between leaves on a tree as we lie on our backs underneath a sky pregnant with stars and think of that picture by Ansel Adams with the moon rising over the Grand Canyon, the feeling in the pit of our stomachs as we drive home from school at the beginning of vacation, and the smell of chocolate chip cookies cooling on a rack moments before getting a taste, all at once. That is not survival instinct. Emotion is not empirical, quantifiable, or describable. And that is very frustrating to me.

I have heard hypotheses for why these things occur as chemical reactions in the brain brought about by natural evolutionary processes and conditioned responses and genetic memory, in order to apply a logical train of thought to something that defies explanation, and I have to say they're only part right. It's saying the car moves because the tires rotate. Maybe emotion IS just our way of translating a chemical reaction, but then what is the chemical reaction translating?

This question frustrates me, because language can't cover it. The more enamored I become of words, the more I realize just how limited their scope is. The more I realize how limited their scope is, the more frustrated I get, because I can't shake the feeling that the vast majority of us on this planet are missing something important that can't be expressed with words even though we keep trying anyway. I wish we could take back all of the connotations every word ever has acquired and start from scratch. Because today if you want to talk about Joy or Love or God, people take away from it Happiness or Sex or Religion and we spend too much time defining terms to get anything useful done.

Why can't we talk about the quietest and grandest thunder you've ever heard reverberating off of your sternum and into that little place in your stomach where your emotion lives when a beautiful girl talks to you without explaining that you don't really hear thunder and it really isn't your sternum and this isn't some Freudian sycophantic meta-dream and it's not just your hormones acting up? Why have we turned to politics to avoid loving each other, and why do people take away from my saying politics Democrat vs. Republican?

I have been making more music than usual, I think for this very reason - because even when I try to describe my frustrations, I fail and get frustrated because of it. I must have started twenty posts in the past month, only to abandon them two paragraphs in. It isn't that I have nothing to say, it's that every time I try to say it words just feel... empty. Like I said at the beginning, we have been given frustrating tools to deal with this place. So instead of blog posts I've been throwing stuff like mad up here. I can't paint or draw or sculpt and I don't really understand modern art (not that I haven't tried immensely hard) and so often language fails me - so maybe what I have to say is better communicated with music.

This is why I love reading TS Eliot and Cormac Macarthy and Jonathan Safran Foer and John Keats (just to give as broad a spectrum as possible... good Lord.), among many, many others, because they all have something to say and they struggle around ways of saying it until it finally settles inside of you and looks at first like Beauty. It frustrates me that The Wasteland is perfect and and that the air in The Road is a better character than any that I've ever written and that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is what tears read like and that Keats died young and unsatisfied with his work, even though during his twenty-something years he accomplished more than most poets who write for 40.

And sort of I suppose to tie this all together, if that is even possible or worth it at this point, it brings me back to that dual parts of us notion that I mentioned earlier. If we were purely scientific creatures who answered solely to reason, I would have had nothing to say here because my frustration would have a name and words would suffice in describing it. Music and poetry and art make no scientific sense, and yet they make more sense to me than anything else. I know that for the sake of my grades and my degree and all that I'm having to suck it up and just do it (which frustrates me immensely), but sometimes I don't want to.

Science has a tough time explaining God, and that frustrates it. I think the trick is to stop trying to explain Him, though, and simply listen.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.