mjj (flemmings) wrote,

The bald unknown

Back when I was taking Intro Psych I nearly had an anxiety attack when I read about aphasia and the related conditions in which the brain refuses to process words passively or actively or whatever. To be stripped of one's language seemed to me the ultimate nightmare.

Many years later I was sweeping leaves off the walk in Tokyo with a broom/ houki/ 箒 in my right hand and- a- a- a thing for sweeping leaves into in my left. I looked at the nameless object and realized I had no idea what it was called in any language. Weird but not yet panic-making: the glimpse of a world without names was intellectually intriguing, like a view of a real Flatland. Granted, the nightmare feel was also brushing my neck: what if I never remember...? (Took my roommates to remind me it was a dustpan, after which I remembered myself that it was a chiritori.)

No doubt the fairest game
Play only in those groves where creatures are
At one, distinct, and innocent of name,
As Alice found, who in the termless wood
Lacked words to thank the shade in which she stood.

Nevertheless, no kindly swoon befell
Tree-named Linnaeus when the bald unknown
Encroached upon his memory, cell by cell,
And he, whose love of all things named had brought
Bird, beast, fish, plant and stone
Into the reaches of his branchy thought
Lost bitterly to mind
Their names' sweet Latin and his own as well.

Am reminded of all this by this passage in this larger entry. Anomia, not related to anomie. Interesting experience, in what's still an unpleasant kind of way.
Tags: language, rl, verse

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