Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Prisonhouse of Language

In writing there is always that terrible disconnect between what is in one's mind and what translates into text on paper. It's never the same, no matter how hard we labor. I always end up thinking, "Well, it's not exactly what I was thinking, but it's pretty good."

This notion that we can't even translate our own language has always fascinated me. I've blogged before about the Romantics who thought that writing inspiration was "magical." But recently I read a reference to Fredric Jameson (a literary scholar and Marxist political theorist), who described this disconnect as "the prisonhouse of language" because we are, in a sense, trapped with the thoughts that we can never entirely express.

I wonder if there is a better way to tap the thoughts that float in our brains. Are they hard to access because we think in symbol and metaphor, and therefore cannot always translate those into words? Would we write better under hypnosis? Or would our thoughts, like translated dreams, make no sense at all?

These are my thoughts (badly translated) on Shakespeare's birthday. More about him later. :)


Cindy Fey said...


Julia Buckley said...

You can relate, right? How's your book coming?