Sentient Matters

sharon hope fabriz
3 min readJan 25, 2024
photo by shf

Why speak unless you can improve upon the silence? She considers the proliferation of words in her “Something New in 2023” document, the one that had grown by two-hundred pages and burst forth with sixty-five thousand words since the year turned. Had she improved upon the silence? What did that even mean?

Still she tries to circumvent the original question, sidelining to define her terms with a built-in bias from which she can then retrofit her answer into something that justifies the very existence of the document itself — one more blah, blah, blah, one more heap of digital dirty laundry to cram into cyberspace.

Touching a nerve? she asks herself. Why so critical about your attempt at self-expression? Why so temperamental about what you know good and well is a fair exchange of honest energy output with symbols on the page that actually means something about who you are? She gnaws on that bone for a minute and then bites on the original question.

Why speak unless you can improve upon the silence? The heat from the wood stove is warming the chair where she sits. Her dogs curl in their self-proclaimed corners of soft comfort as the sun inches onto the slats of the floor. The question floats in on the rays of light and rewrites itself, Why write unless you can improve upon the blank page?

How often she has found herself backspacing her way to a new start. Don’t be so predictable, she tells herself. Subject/verb/object will only get you so far. Complexity is a path. Style is an art. Word choice is a performance of will. Order alters meaning. Beats make music. Swimming through phrases can give the sense of movement toward something like an island in an ocean of waves. Why not play with how your mind processes the sensory? Why not illuminate the center of what you see and hear and smell and touch and taste and let that reveal how you feel? Why not make matter matter?

If embodied knowing is not qualified in language, how will it ever become part of the intelligence that will direct future intentions on the planet? Creating content from lived experience IS the path that those of us who are able must follow in order to extend our experiences of sensory submersion to the collective understanding of what it is to be alive in the world as a unique life form at a time when uniqueness is being monetized, not sanctified.

This all sounds very heady, she admits to herself. Millennia of artists have said it so much better in dance and stories and songs and other art forms that call upon the fluid nature of what it feels like to be in a body with sensory awareness.

And then the “aha!” strikes her. Those two-hundred pages, those sixty-five thousand words generated in the cycle of the year DO contain art and DO contain claims of self-awareness expressed with as much creative flow as she was able to muster on any given day in a year full of disruption, distraction and drama.

You went one better than the blank page, she assures herself. And she goes to the mirror and opens her mouth and sways as she reads what she has just written to break the blasted silence.