As someone who made a career of research and writing, I have always found words important. Much earlier, as a young immigrant child, by quickly learning the right words in English I helped my parents to make a go of our new life in America. Yet I'm also aware of how much words can be misunderstood, how words don't always adequately represent our deepest feelings.
Words don't serve visual artists, visual artists, visual artists in the way that other elements do. Even though Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) expressed himself in a personal, evocative, and lively style in his correspondence, he clearly placed more value on the language of art when he said: Really, we can speak only through our paintings.
Shlain also describes a curious result of traumatic injuries to the left hemisphere of the brain (dominant for language in 95% of right-handed people). During World War I, physicians observed that soldiers who could no longer speak a word were able to sing songs they knew prior to sustaining brain damage. And the Russian neurologist Alexander Luria reported that a composer created his best work after a massive stroke in his left hemisphere left him speechless. In the absence of words, a different creative faculty can take over.
Both science and art form in the course of the centuries a human language by which we can speak about the more remote parts of reality; the coherent sets of concepts of physics and the styles of art are different visions that offset the language of words.
Isn't Heisenberg referring to balance when he uses the word "offset"? Don't we need both words and pictures for multi-faceted expression? And don't words, when combined in the hands of master poets, novelists, and dramatists, also constitute art? Writer Jeannette Winterson (1959- ) thinks so. In More Writers & Company: New Conversations with CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel, she reveals her feelings about words:
Curiously, the "war" in the movie never mentioned words vs. sounds or pictures vs. sounds. Now, what would musicians say about leaving them out of the argument?
Do you find yourself favoring one or the other--words or pictures or sounds? If so, what is it about your preference that works best for you? Why do you think you're drawn more to one than to another? Or do they all have equal value for you?
If you're a writer, do you find that you can create a clearer, more engaging picture with words?
If you're a visual artist, do you incorporate words into textiles, add them to the canvas, work them into the clay or marble? What impels you to include words?