“A silent wall. We must make mouths in it…then it will speak more light.” –Doctor Who. The Web Planet. By Bill Strutton.
Daylight oozes up from the darkness. No one really sees it starting, but pretty soon it’s everywhere – filling windows, sticking to walls, getting on everything.
Light breaks. Light scatters. Light is cast. It can be soft or cold or harsh. It blinds us, finds us, seeks us out.
Ask a painter, and she will tell you: it’s light. White on a canvas surrounded by darkness. It can’t be any brighter than anything else in the room. There is only so much light and no more.
So how Vermeer’s pearl earring?
The glaring light off a face by Sargent?
We see things in a different light.
We light out, make light of, we lighten up. We travel light, trip the light, catch the light. We are light-headed, light-hearted, light-handed. We follow the light. It’s there in our primal plant-like nature. We are phototropes. We grow toward the light. Or away. We shy away.
It’s worse for those of us in the writing business. Words are such humble, drab little things. Inky black bugs wandering between the margins. How can these little creatures convey meaning, carry music, catch the world with a richness, a completeness, greater even than that which we can drink in with our eyes?
How can words make light?
They are tools – chisels, augers, blades, awls. With them we make mouths in the wall.
The wall is not silence. It is darkness. An opaque barrier. A wall of babble, of blather, of legalese, of advertising. A wall where words are turned into jargon, to clickbait, to catchphrases. Meaning is reduced to the lowest common denominator. Music is lost for static, for noise.
That is the wall.
So we use the tools we have. We will make more mouths in that wall of darkness. We will teach it to speak more light. Gather together the tools of our human trade. Hone your verbs, be swift, be clear. The wall waits, heavy with darkness.
Hey buddy. Got a light?