The moments that require a higher level of rigour in our speaking

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There was a man speaking on the radio this morning, a poet and professor of literature, and he was discussing the poems he wrote before and after his wife’s death from ovarian cancer. He said something like the following [my paraphrase],

“I was being interviewed about the book one day and the interviewer said, ‘So the book is the story of your wife’s experience of cancer’ and at first I said ‘yes’ and then later in the interview I felt the need to tell him that what I’d said wasn’t strictly correct. I told him that the book is the story of my experience of my wife’s experience of cancer. It felt important that I correct myself … when it came to writing about my wife and our experience I felt it was absolutely essential that I was honest … of course, I think it’s essential to be honest whenever I’m writing a poem but here there was an extra necessity …”

I was reminded of something a commenter on this blog said several years ago. She was an artist, from Belgium, and she spoke about meeting the man many years ago who would become her husband. She said something like, “When I met him, I knew it was absolutely important I was as honest about myself as possible …”

I think we’ve all had this experience, of recognising that a moment requires – impels – a higher level of rigour in our speaking. It’s curious, don’t you think? The part that intrigues me most is that it cannot be ignored.

What about you? Have you had this experience? What do you see about it?

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Image: A Japanese Buddha I saw in NGV Melbourne; lacquer, gold, crystal and Cypress, from the 12th century

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