How to say it?

Impressions come in a flash. I see, feel and sense them with more than ordinary senses, crisp and clear, but I don’t know them. Allowing not-knowing promotes their unfolding. This may sound like an oxymoron. Let me explain:

An Inuit sits on his sledge, casting his eyes across the glistening whiteness of the snow desert and letting them rest on the gently undulated line of the horizon. Suddenly, like a flash (see above) he sees a tropical island beach scene.

He sees everything detailed and precise, but he does not know, what it is. He has no words to describe the scene, there are no common symbols in his world. The dilemma begins, when he wants to talk about it and escalates when he wants to understand.


Back to me, expressing the image of an insight is already a challenge, even with a relatively familiar content. Instantly, images appear but stay for a few seconds and then begin fading. I need to find words and describe the picture, segment after segment. I go through the process of redrawing the image with words. If the redrawing takes too long, the recreated image will be incomplete or not as detailed thus missing on depth.

The image appears at an instance (no time). All segments of information are present next to each other, in parallel. When writing about it, I choose the sequence of segments, but they follow each other like threaded on a string, it is a serial process, which takes time. Mozart has experienced and expressed this when composing music.

When experiencing a scene with unfamiliar content, with a lack of or no common symbols, I am somewhat stuck. A good start is describing what it feels like, the feelings that the scenario evokes, however, this takes much longer than describing facts.

The next step would be associating my feelings, the intangible, directly with shapes or objects without involving thought or imagination. The tangibles need not be known to me. When a scenario manifests through being written down or read, then it would evoke the same feelings.

I would start with: “It feels like…” And once it is written and clear, I drop the “It feels like…” and only describe the scenario. I have achieved creating a sensation in the reader, which is similar to my feeling, considering variation in perceptions.


A clarity popped in my head. This could be the process the painter of an impressionistic or expressionistic painting passes through. He has an impression with an unfamiliar content, and he wants to convert it into an image.

As uncensored as possible, the expressionist paints unfamiliar shapes and colour arrangements. Occasionally, recognisable objects may manifest, facilitating the occurrence of a similar impression in the open, unrestricted viewer’s mind.

The impressionist may start with a familiar scene and overlays his feelings by choosing colours of variations of shape, which can be non-conforming with the commonly accepted reality.

What do I do? I submerse myself into the feelings, let go of this world and wait until familiar words form around the scenario. I described this in a poem: Finding Words.

I say there, words are eager to help. They are attracted by deep-felt sensations. The more my mind permits me to drop into my feelings, the stronger the attraction between impression and words. Words attach themselves to the impression, they dress it. And since the most words are familiar, the impression appears in an almost familiar form.

Occasionally, the new dress remains incomplete; the reason for the final, written work manifesting, remaining in fragments. Sometimes, the gaps are small enough, and I find ways to close them. Sometimes, there is no need for closing them because the reader can fill in the missing parts.


I have noticed this method of leaving gaps applied in line drawings. When the line is long enough, and its trend is evident, the viewer’s eye completes the line to its endpoint, a junction with another line for example. This method makes the drawing appear light, a floating filigree.

My eyes and mind are attracted by such drawings. Completing the drawing, filling the gaps, being involved in the creation of the image, causes interest and a sense of self-expression, even it is so minute, hardly not noticeable and often unconscious.


And what happens if curiosity attracts many words, but they can’t find a place on the intangible parts of an impression? Then it remains elusive, un-manifested. I let it be and be kind to my darling mind and not pressure it to conjure up, something fitting only remotely.

There is so much inspiration coming, I can hardly keep up with processing it, which means writing it down, shaping it so it, makes sense to others and publishing it.


This inexpressible state of reality remains untouched. Free from criticism and earthly limitations, impressions grow and glow, perhaps this is where artists reap their ultimate reward.

Believing to know
prevents learning.


Post Scriptum

Dreams and thoughts are progressive, they don’t cause such challenges. Sometimes, they can be somewhat surrealistic, which means in the realms of the Arts: the realistic objects are arranged and presented in super- or sub-realistic, unrealistic combination and arrangements.


All inner experiences may evoke a common question: “Where do they come from? What initiates their occurrence in the mind, the inner eye or somewhere else inside?”  I have wondered about these questions for a long time, and there is a paper on that: Every Thought has been thought before

And another question: “Where do they go, once we have finished thinking them?” I have written about this in my paper: Where do thoughts go?


Wolfgang Köhler
10 January 2016

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