- Incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible. — Dictionary.com
“Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” Douglas Adams Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Good writing produces a very specific effect: it makes you feel as though you’ve been given access to some precious source of truth. It does not, however, give you that truth. In fact, the more you dig at it, the more it will slip away, sinking back into the depths again.
You won’t even be able to say what it is you thought you saw.
This aura of ineffable truth isn’t limited to writing. Music, painting, sculpture, dance—they can all do it. But with writing, the effect is particularly unsettling because we all use words, all the time. They are the friendly, familiar tools of communication, as common as the air we breathe. When they are used to express the ineffable (which means, after all , inexpressible), it seems especially uncanny. This shouldn’t surprise us. We don’t expect dancing or painting or music to have a specific literal meaning. They don’t deal in the “literal” at all.
Words, of course, do. Continue reading “The Effing Ineffable.”