Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Physicality of Phyllis Theroux

I've read Phyllis Theroux's introduction to The Journal Keeper twice.  She writes with a wonderful physicality that keeps me moving.

"...where my children were still scrabbling around with their fingers in plates of spaghetti."

The word "still", alliterative with scrabbling, is so critical to meaning.  Imagine the sentence without it. "Still" means something, like they were unaffected by what happened before the word "where".

"The practice of writing, of laboring long hours to buckle words around an idea and make a sentence slide across the page like Fred Astaire across a dance floor, lay ahead of me."

The contrast in movement between "buckle" and "slide" is one thing.  The comparison of a "sentence" which doesn't move to "Fred Astaire" (if you haven't seen a DVD of him dance, you should) another and the warm bronzed metal of a "buckle" to the blue abstract coolness of "idea" is another.  She's taking flesh and blood words, words of the body, of corporeality and fixing them to words of concept, of theoretical but not physical substance.  The joining of the 2 worlds in one sentence is breathtaking.

"Details that had been lost, like puzzle pieces in the sofa cushions, were retrieved and pressed back into the larger picture. Events that had come unglued from the calendar were put back in chronological order."

The  "Details that had been lost" are made physical by being compared to "puzzle pieces" so now an idea is a concrete thing.  The "puzzle pieces" move because they are "retrieved and pressed back into the larger picture".

In a high tech highly conceptual world, this ability to turn ideas we can't see into something that obeys the laws of physics and gravity like our bodies do, is critical.....to navigating the constant stream of new, to creating new business ideas and platforms, and most importantly, for understanding what impact a new meteor of an idea may have on the constellation of where I live, what I do for a living and whom I'm with. In short, the physicality of my life.

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