In Judy Endow’s book, Paper Words, she describes the process she went through to communicate. She writes about the “bridge pieces” or information storage system she experienced, “Then world-people might see the little bridge pieces stuck onto the sides of all these stone islands.
“Bridge pieces just hanging there serving no purpose (other than to underline the fact that a bridge was meant to be there, but isn’t) little bridge pieces going nowhere with gray -matter g a p s where the bridges should be.
“Perhaps then the world-people might come to understand that even though she may know all the info that’s needed to answer their question or to produce a reciprocal response to keep up with her part of their conversation, sometimes it takes a lot of her time to jump in a boat and float around in that gray-matter space of her mind floating in the g a p s trying to find all the right islands of stone that might hold any relevant data pertinent to the subject at hand.
“Sometimes it’s a cumbersome task to access information in this manner and at other times it is downright impossible.”
Judy’s book is incredible on so many levels and I hope she will forgive me for butchering the placement of her words, because my blog would not allow me to replicate what she does in her book. However, I will try to explain. She literally breaks the sentences apart in meaningful ways. There are the words she’s writing, but there is another layer of meaning to be gleaned from her words, and that is how and where she places the words on the page. As an example of the above quote, these words are placed in such a way as to create islands of words, separate from each other and yet the meaning overlaps, but the placement of the words (the islands) do not. This requires the reader to visually leap from one island of words to the next, just as she describes her thought process must do. It is a wild experience to read in this way and further illustrates her struggles with “bridge pieces” (information storage), “gaps” (information processing), and canoe transportation (information retrieval).
In her chapter entitled,”People Are Not Interchangeable” Judy Endow writes, “…meaning that if PERSON ONE has a conversation with her today …then tomorrow she can’t speak her response to PERSON TWO even if both persons belong to the very same group sometimes when she knows what she’s talking about and the person to whom she is speaking acts like he doesn’t understand her the first thing she does is to repeat herself saying her exact words over but if the person still acts confused she begins to wonder… this may be one of those times when she needs to be talking to PERSON ONE but because both of them are in the same group it somehow makes perfect sense to her to be talking to PERSON TWO but this kind of mistake rarely works out so she must always remember the rule that she made for herself: ”People are NOT interchangeable.”
Again I couldn’t duplicate the arrangement of these words on this blog, an arrangement that serves to visually recreate the issues she describes having.
As I read Judy’s powerful book it was impossible not to reflect on my daughter. How often has she said something that I did not/ could not understand? How many times has she spoken to me about something or someone who I didn’t understand the context of, but that she seemed to know and understood me to know as well. Only I did not. How many times did I think – what am I missing? And now I wonder, was she speaking to me, assuming I was PERSON TWO, while PERSON ONE might well have known exactly what she was referring to? How many times have I been PERSON ONE and then explained to PERSON TWO what I thought was meant?
It happens often.
Emma doing one of her favorite “finger mazes” – 2013