Jennifer Bowen Hicks and an earnest whisper in another’s ear


Jennifer Bowen Hicks reflects on the essayist's mind on the page @ Brevity.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I’ve never taken my clothes off in public and I’m not a particularly close talker. If I have boundary issues, no one has ever told me so and I’ve never asked, a fact that, itself, should exonerate me. Bear this in mind as I tell you that I admire Terry Tempest Williams’ aim to write as though she “whispers in the ear of the one [she] loves.” Such a whisper, to such a love, would be, above all else—intimate, wouldn’t it? Intimacy, I think, must presuppose honesty as honesty presupposes vulnerability.
Williams, then, must write as though she’s exposing her barest self.

An earnest whisper in another’s ear—how brave. Put away thoughts of black lace and sordid secrets. The sort of whisper I mean can be about hummingbirds or athlete’s foot, an aging parent or eggplant. Its very purpose is not to show, but to say, and by saying to connect. You to me. Arthur Schopenhauer notes that when human language began it resembled animal sounds and marked not concepts but feelings and “agitations of the will.” Imagine homo habilis’ moan as she held her first blood-smeared newborn—a guttural utterance that might have conveyed: Beautiful. Scared. Wow.
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