Elizabeth Robinson
Dialogue, Doubt, and Presence

Let me begin with a questionable syllogism, itself based on speculative propositions.

If mystical experience is dialogic
if poetry presumes and is based in some form of dialog
poetry is mystical experience.

(Yes, and Ray Charles is God.)

All of this might hinge, for those brought up in the western Christian tradition (either explicitly or via cultural suffusion) on what we mean by the word, “word.”

(a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds and their written representation

—speech or talk

—lyrics of a song, as opposed to the music

—talk or conversation

—a verbal signal

—authoritative utterance)

The dictionary I have is not helpful with etymology—

word, Wort, orth, waured, wirds, verbum, vardas
It hints that in some derivations “word” might be related to “name.” Hence the oral, spoken sense of “word” that predominates in the definitions may shift to an understanding of “word” as label or sign.

But in the first verses of the Gospel of John, in the New Testament, we also have this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Slightly later:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

So many gorgeous problems here: the being with and the being as identical to; this awkward yet provocative idea that, sans Word, no made thing could have been made.

What emphases arise out of this conjunction of word and presence?
–Things are made.
–The corporeal merges with the abstract.
–There is unifying at the same time there is distinction.
–It was always thus even though it wasn’t always thus, because history intervened to make it so (as far as believers are concerned, that is).