when you say nothing at all

Clown Play: Ferdinand The Bull, at Atta Galatta, Bangalore
Clown Play: Ferdinand The Bull, at Atta Galatta, Bangalore

Watching a clown play today brought me back to the question of not speaking or using words. Somehow it feels easier to do something we really want to, if we aren’t talking. Remember Harpo Marx in Duck Soup? He would get away with pranks involving quick- witted moves of his body and objects around him. And to all the annoyance expressed by his victims  — often in loud words, and counter-actions — Harpo would simply respond with more action.

Thinking about children. They act similarly.  Sometimes repeating their actions despite adult warnings and prohibitions. What is common to Harpo and children is a certain uninhibitedness. What is also common is that they use little or no spoken language.

Harpo Marx represents the Id, according to Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek (in that film on films, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema). The other Marx brothers being the Ego, Superego, etc . That’s the deep part of the mind, according to psychoanalysis, which is desire uninhibited. So, it is interesting to think that language makes us social in a big way, shapes our Superego. In learning to speak, we learn to censor ourselves, too.

And this brings me to the thought that drawing (or visual expression) is closer to the Id, as it is uninhibited by wordly censors. That, if we let our hands flow, we might have stuff on our paper (or walls) that society simply might frown upon. What’s worse, unlike spoken words, they remain on paper to be seen again and again. What’s even worse, they have a quick, sledgehammer impact.



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