The Word Creates the Thing It Names

The Word Creates the Thing It Names May 23, 2017

Not ex nihilo, out of nothingness,

For nothingness does not exist.

The word selects what adds up to a name

From all the possibilities we might perceive.

We see what we name; the name comes first.


                      Truth bore names into our world for love of us,

                       Because we cannot learn it without names.


Because there was a morning when words quit

Their normal job of filtering out most of reality,

Because I know how William Blake perceived,

What he and Kant deduced about our minds,

I know that a word’s sharp edges cut

The shape it names from the infinite cookie dough

(As good a name as spacetime or plenum)

To construct the world we think we see,.

Leaving the rest of the dough behind

And forever unknowable.

I have sometimes seen a blur

Snap into focus when it’s named.


Some astronomers call the fullness just a thing,

But all the Big Bang has evolved is just

A beachhead where a boy

Plays with pretty rocks, ignorant

Of the endless sea before him

That itself is a tear in the eye of the One,

Who is also Many, who lives and moves,

In whom we have our Being

If you think that’s all beyond you, as Professor

Phillips said, Your god’s too small.


If we could perceive all the fullness

That each word selects from, we’d be

Overwhelmed by such knowledge and such bliss,

That’s why no man can see the face of God and live,


Kant deduced we do not see the world in itself,

But only what our mind constructs

Out of the pathetic shards that it selects.

Things for themselves are what we think we know,

Things in themselves are what we can never know,

No matter how long we keep trying.

But I think here of persons, not of things.


When you read about his glory or his tents

Or a pillar of fire, it’s She who’s meant,

The Shekinah, who is all we can perceive

Of the divine. The gifted ones can see

Hear, feel Her—as you can, if you’re willing to—

But if you’re sure you can’t, that She’s not

There, you never will. That’s called

A self-fulfilling prophecy.


She’s our fundamental thing for itself

And so The Name’s our thing in itself

(But always remember, they’re persons, not things).

The Name’s deduced, suspected, but never perceived.

If so, all we can ever know of infinity is Her,

The Mother, eternally feminine, at home

In our world, where we must always feel as if

The Father is away on a very long business trip

While we wait and hope for his return.

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