Dashiki Dialogues: Dressed up in a dashiki as a parting shot

2014-08-04 13:45

‘When words leave off, music begins,” wrote German poet Heinrich Heine.

By this I imagine he meant to say where speech fails in articulating the contents of our souls, art can be relied on to carry the task of communicating. Sometimes, a scream is enough to?point out the meaning we wish to convey; sometimes a crack of laughter will do.

Often, while driving with a significant other, I find the best way to say what I feel is to just play her a song and keep quiet. I believe that in this way, the poetry of song manages to be clearer than my words, which would be muddled by the emotions of the moment.

There’s always some kind of obstacle that infects our intended messages. In the end, what is understood is at the mercy of these obstacles.

In other less intimate instances, the things that interfere with meaning are less insidious. Think of journalists who work in fear of the arrest of a child and who hold back their thoughts for fear of parental reprisal.

What we think we know about people, at least from what they’ve said and done, is a version mediated and shaped by the obstacles we deal with each day. In 2011 you, dear reader, and I began a weekly conversation through this column.

I’ve spent this week wondering whether these letters have brought us closer to knowing each other better as partners in the game of exchanging and sharing meaning.

It’s a question I’m afraid we may never know the answers to. But we shall continue attempting to make ourselves clearer.

Where we feel it a tad inadequate, we shall call on music or poetry to begin.

Greek poet Constantine P Cavafy has also dealt with this dilemma. The result was a poem called Hidden Things.

He writes: “Let them not seek to discover who I was // from all that I have done and said. // An obstacle was there that transformed // the deeds and the manner of my life. // An obstacle was there that stopped me // many times when I was about to speak. // Only from my most imperceptible deeds // and my most covert writings // from these alone will they understand me // But perhaps it isn’t worth exerting // such care and such effort for them to know me. // Later, in the more perfect society, // surely some other person created like me // will appear and act freely.”

In this way, I bid you farewell as this is the last of our dialogue dressed in this dashiki.

Until we read again...

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.