Inner Monologues

Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Tuesday, 27th July 2010

conessquirrelWE ARRIVE a little early for visiting, so walk around the hospital through the leafy grounds. Under a small group of pines we find these nibbled cones which I guess are the work of the grey squirrel which climbs one of the trees as we approach.

I was listening to Word of Mouth on Radio 4 this afternoon which explored an unusual condition related to too much thinking about words, or perhaps I should say thinking in words. Tim Parks, a writer who has struggled with a tendency to think in continuous inner monologues, explained that when we think about words the various muscles associated with speech start to tense in readiness for the expected delivery of those words. This tension can lead mysterious pains and to stress.

As a keen writer he found that even when he took up meditation that too became an inner monologue:

'I've now acheived inner peace by banishing words from my mind altogether.'

to which his inner monologue replied:

'Yes but that statement was in words so you haven't really stopped thinking in words . . . '

And so it went on.

pine coneI'm lucky in my compulsion to draw because it gives me a break from thinking in words. The nibbled cones are a good example of a subject which discourages the use of words as you draw. There are plenty of shapes in there but few to which the mind could add a label.

The complete cone is more prone to analysis in words as there are regular shield-shapes at the ends of each scale and a spiral pattern in their arrangement. An architectural subject generally gets me thinking in terms of words as I draw chimney pots, drain-pipes and window frames. Drawing humans also encourages you to slip into an inner monologues with worries about noses, ankles and other numerous labelled features of the face and body.

Nibbled cones are a fairly safe refuge . . . unless you start thinking 'should I go for Art Nouveau, or Gothic . . . or Cubist?', replacing labels for things with labels for styles.

Links: Word of Mouth , Tim Parks