February 6th, 2012 • 8:45 AM
Words, Words, Words

by Joanne McAndrews

After being extremely provoked and aided by the blog post Thinking Without Words by Shawna Halevy I was finally able to formulate some thoughts into words. The thoughts that I had been hitherto unable to express had to do with the method by which thoughts are communicated, or rather, the challenge, when given a piece of poetry, for example a Shakespeare sonnet, of getting beyond the words and instead finding the thoughts that are not written on the page.

As Shawna's post makes clear, thought itself is non-verbal and non-visual; but when you take those thoughts and try to express them you are then forced to engage the verbal and the visible realm. As Kepler states in Book IV of the Harmonies "the sensible terms and the soul must be present, and deliver their mutual efforts, actively and passively, the former by moving the sense, the latter by comparing."

It is not enough to simply have a mind that has great profound thoughts, those thoughts need to be shared with another human mind, and in order to do so the faculties of the senses must come into play. But, that being said, it is not for the sake of a sensual experience itself but rather, as a true scientist like William Shakespeare understood, it is through the contradiction of the senses that you are able to 'mind' the reality. "Yet sit and see, minding true things by what their mockeries be" (Shakespeare's Henry V)

To quote again from Kepler's Harmonies "if the soul which counts is taken away, all number is taken away, but not the individual units. Hence number is found in many things themselves materially, but is nothing apart from them, unless a mind is present to count."

Both the senses and the mind must be present, the one to receive, the other to measure. So, when given a piece of music or poetry, the performer is given the notes or words that are to be used to engage the mind of the receiving audience. BUT, just like the actor on the stage is to act as a cipher between the audience and the playwright, the words act as a cipher between the audience and the thoughts of the character. The words themselves are only the shadows, they are not the thoughts themselves.

As quoted in Shawna's blog Einstein, reflecting on his own thought process, comments "...This was merely a later formulation of the subject matter, just a question of how the thing could afterwards best be written. These thoughts did not come in any verbal formulation. I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterward...." So the question for the actor, when learning the lines set down by the playwright, is what were the thoughts that tried to use these words as their expression?

From the many years of work that I have done with Robert Beltran, working on various scenes from Schiller and Shakespeare, but most especially from the work we have done on Shakespeare's sonnets, it has becoming extremely clear that the words themselves are simply the baseline. You start by memorizing the words, making sure you have them exactly as they are written on the page. But as soon as those words are committed to memory, then the real work begins! The work to free yourself of those words entirely!

Since words are just a secondary stage in the process of creative thought, when working on a sonnet, or any poem, scene or piece of music, you are actually working backwards. You have the words (or notes) in front of you that are an attempt to express a profound discovery, but they are just words. Your task is to figure out what the mental process was, that found these words as the closest approximation of the thoughts themselves.

The task of freeing yourself of the words, or the notes on the page, is one that takes a lot of work. The first step requires knowing the words so well that you never have to think about them, they have to become second nature, something instinctual. You must free yourself from the words so that your mind can become engaged in the non-verbal, non-visual thoughts that are searching for a formulation in words.

The words on the page are hints for the thoughts that created them and in the case of a Shakespeare sonnet, or Shakespeare's verse in general, you have the added tool of Shakespeare's very deliberate, scientific use of iambic pentameter that gives you a lot more clues into the meaning behind the words. The iambic verse sets up a rhythm that can then be broken in several ways. One, through a simple inversion of the iambic meter, and another through the use of long series of monosyllabic words. It is these breaks in the rhythm that create a certain dissonance that the mind will respond to.

Then you have another element, without which the thoughts will not live, called the pregnant pause. When you struggle to formulate thoughts into words, they never simply come straight out in one long stream of words, you have to stop and think! "hmm, let me see... what's the best way to put this?" The pauses, or rather breathing points, which would be considered by the empiricist as empty space, are the most important, thought-filled element of any piece.

Add to this counterpoint and very distinct key changes and you begin to create a musicality that is way beyond the words themselves. It is through this musicality, through the sense of sound, that the audience's mind becomes engaged in the struggle of the performer's mind to find the words to express the thought. "… It is by the senses, the servants of the soul, that they are received." (Kepler's Harmonies) But, if the actors mind is not engaged, if they are simply reciting the words, or if the orchestra is simply playing the notes on the page, then the thoughts are dead and the audience remains in the realm of sense-perception and is deprived of experiencing the profound thoughts of the composer.

While a Shakespeare sonnet does not (at least on the surface) have a visual action involved in it's presentation, Shakespeare's plays do. And hence, the faculty of sight, becomes a crucial factor in the conveying of the idea. This is something that Shakespeare himself explicitly demonstrates in the role of Chorus in Henry V. Chorus states that they will bring the history of the reign of Henry V to life on "this unworthy scaffold" but that, rather than trying to replicate the history in some sense perceptual way, they would instead use a trick of the senses to engage the imagination in order to break time and space:

For tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there, jumping o'er times
Turning the accomplishments of many years,
Into an hour-glass;
(Chorus, Act 1)

And so our scene must to the battle fly;
Where, O for pity, we shall much disgrace
With four or five most vile and ragged foils,
Right ill-disposed in brawl ridiculous,
The name of Agincourt. Yet sit and see,
Minding true things by what their mock'ries be.
(Chorus, Act 4)

After stating very clearly in the opening prologue that the audience is going to have to use their imagination, Chorus goes on to open every act, abridging the story, and constantly appealing to the senses of sight and sound as a pathway to the audience's imagination. "Suppose that you have seen the well-appointed King", "hear the shrill whistle which doth order give", "o, do but think you stand upon the rivage and behold a city", "work, work your thoughts and there in see a siege", "behold the ordinance on their carriages", "behold the English beach", "now in London place him". But it's a trick of the senses, the audience doesn't actually hear a whistle, they don't actually see a siege, or do they? If the actor playing Chorus does his job, the audience will indeed hear a whistle, they will indeed see a siege, but it will be the mind's eye and the mind's ear that perceives them.

This is part of the magic of the stage. It is not about what you see on the stage, it's about the 'invisible'; the invisible action taking place in the mind of the characters and the invisible action taking place between the characters. A great challenge Mr LaRouche once laid out on the question of acting was "imagine yourself as an actor in front of a blind audience, can you still convey the truth of the play? Imagine yourself as a blind actor, in front of a blind audience, can you still convey the truth of the play?"

When the actors minds are truly engaged in creating the thoughts of the character they represent they are able to take the audience out of the sense-perceptual world they are so often trapped by and lift them up into a higher realm where they gain insight into the joy of their own creative imagination.

As the great actor Jason Robards said "...that's the eternal triangle of the writer, the audience and the actor, where they join - and here's the thing, when you go in there to a 3hr 45min performance... or 5 hours like in the Iceman, and, if it's going right, it seems like about 2 minutes. You break time and space, and time! Ralph Richardson once said that every time we go out on stage we break time, if we do it right, we break space - and it's to art, time to dream, we have to be able to dream."

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The Basement Project began in 2006 as a core team of individuals tasked with the study of Kepler's New Astronomy, laying the scientific foundations for an expanded study of the LaRouche-Riemann Science of Physical Economics. Now, that team has expanded both in number, and in areas of research, probing various elements and aspects of the Science of Physical Economy, and delivering in depth reports, videos, and writings for the shaping of economic policy.