Words, wordlessness, and differentiation


I’m fascinated with the concept of thoughts without words… Have you ever tried contemplating something without putting it into words? Maybe it’s normal for you… but for me, the moment I try to do that, I find I can’t experience it until I find the words. Are thoughts without words simply feelings?  Not necessarily.


I find it frustrating when I’m trying to think about something because I’m not so great with finding the right words… I’m great at finding different words for something – I love being a walking thesaurus sometimes.  But putting the initial label onto a feeling, thought or idea — that’s really difficult.

I ran across an interesting article in Psychology Today about this – unsymbolized thinking,  “the experience of an explicit, differentiated thought that does not include the experience of words, images, or any other symbols.” It’s apparently possible, but it’s often a mirage… once you get close, it disappears.

I suppose it’s not a coincidence, then, that I create art out of words… but unless you know that the images are made out of words, you’re only experiencing part of what’s there.  And sometimes, that’s enough, right?

Anatomy of Melancholy detail1

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