There is something maddeningly attractive about the untranslatable, about a word that goes silent in transit.
∆ Anne Carson, from Variations on the Right to Remain Silent, This is a Public Place (no. 7, Winter 2009)
In the light of all this, perhaps you will understand why we prefer the metaphor "meaning making" to most of the metaphors of the mind that are operative in the schools. It is, to begin with, much less static than the others. It stresses a process view of minding, including the fact that "minding" is undergoing constant change. "Meaning making" also forces us to focus on the individuality and the uniqueness of the meaning maker (the minder). In most of the other metaphors there is an assumption of "sameness" in all learners. The "garden" to be cultivated, the darkness to be lighted, the foundation to be built upon, the clay to be molded—there is always the implication that all learning will occur in the same way. The flowers will be the same color, the light will reveal the same room, the clay will take the same shape, and so on. Moreover, such metaphors imply boundaries, a limit to learning. How many flowers can a garden hold? How much water can a bucket take? What happens to the learner after his mind has been molded? How large can a building be, even if constructed on a solid foundation? The "meaning maker" has no such limitation. There is no end to his educative process. He continues to create new meanings...
“In myth, women's boundaries are pliant, porous, mutable. Her power to control them is inadequate, her concern for them unreliable. Deformation attends her. She swells, she shrinks, she leaks, she is penetrated, she suffers metamorphoses. The women of mythology regularly lose their form in monstrosity.”
― Anne Carson, Men in the Off Hours
There are many stillnesses we didn’t get around to in this essay—snow; fog; moonlight; chastity; the gerundive; Odysseus tied to the mast while sailing past the Sirens (the Sirens who, according to Franz Kafka, were anyway silent); the stillness of unsent letters; the stillness inside an egg; the stillness of all the omnibuses in London driving around empty on 18 December 1936 while a king was abdicating on radio; the stillness of all the swimming pools in the world that are closed at night; the stillness of Thomas Edison’s last breath, which is preserved in a glass tube in a museum in Detroit, Michigan. And finally I would have liked to mention lips, or the action of closing the lips one upon the other, for which ancient Greek had the verb lύeim, giving us English “muteness” and “mystery,” as well as various words for sounds that can be made with closed lips, all of which brings to mind those persons in detention centers or asylum who choose to stitch their lips shut as a gesture of resistance or rage. But having no idea what to say about those people, I stopped.
There is the space where a thought would be, but which you can’t get hold of. I love that space. It’s the reason I like to deal with fragments. Because no matter what the thought would be if it were fully worked out, it wouldn’t be as good as the suggestion of a thought that the space gives you. Nothing fully worked out could be so arresting, spooky.
∆ Anne Carson, from The Art of Poetry No. 88, Paris Review (No. 171, Fall 2004)
The distance between two points increases over time. Disconnecting and fragmenting their connections. This is a painful experience, full of bitterness and resentment that ebbs and flows over memories and nostalgics. But there is a gorgeousness that exists in this like pale watercolours over solid black lines. It will always linger, but it becomes a part of you, for better or worse, keeping you who you are and marking you with scars like brands you can never escape or change but must always grow with. I believe in so many things, but that doesn’t make them passions. So why don’t you tell me who you are?
∆ Anne Carson, from Short Talk On Travelling. Short Talks (Brick Books, 1992)