The last post ended with a caution that I was using nouns to talk about activities. I mentioned the six senses, but this caution is just as true for the noun “aphasia.” If we recognize that people do aphasia, we also begin to see that the doing of aphasia is not the doing of hurting. The title for the last post, “Aphasia hurts,” was somewhat misleading. We do more between aphasia and hurting. Later posts will consider to what extent that “between” is temporal, logical, physiological, or along any of the multiple dimensions of hurt that we mentioned in the last post. Here I just want to pay attention to doing aphasia and to look at how attending this way begins to change our focus on how aphasia hurts.
Aphasia is no more a constant state than is pregnancy. We do aphasia when we talk or listen or write or read, and we falter, fumble or freeze. The words don’t come or they don’t express what we’re trying to say or write. (Note: that list of activities does not include “think.”) A large part of the frustration of aphasia is that we are not only clear on what we want to say or write, but we are clear that we’re having trouble getting the right words out. We get this if not by our own perception, then by how our audience responds inappropriately to what we thought we said. We know something is missing, but have great difficulty in getting it right for ourselves.
By the time we are adults most of us communicate more or less easily, comfortably. How we act easily and comfortably will be explored more in this blog, particularly as we examine how driving-with-no-hands exemplifies driving easily and comfortably. As we become more aware that opening all eight aspects of doing and living means doing them easily and comfortably, it will become more and more apparent that I do not say lightly: not communicating easily and comfortably is the biggest absence, lack, failing when doing aphasia.
I hope that I am not confusing the issue by taking a concept from substance philosophy to describe this loss of ease and comfort. (Already I’m slipping away from adverbs into nouns.) Yet, I cannot resist comparing aphasia to the theory of evil propounded by Augustine and expanded by Thomas Aquinas. Minimally, this comparison appeals to my feeling that aphasia is evil. Augustine and Aquinas argued that evil does not have any substance of its own, but rather is an absence, a lack in what is and what is is good (privatio boni). Therefore, an absolute evil would be a big zero. It could not exist.
When doing aphasia the activity of communicating does not communicate to varying degrees or takes a lot of energy from the speaker in the effort to get the words out or takes away the rhythm and flow that is so important to effective communication. All these ways in which doing aphasia deprives the act of communicating of communicating easily, comfortably, and well remind me of evil as the privation of good. But these “evil” aspects of doing aphasia are not the same as aphasia hurts.
Aphasia hurts, but that hurting is not aphasia. Aphasia as the not in not-communicating differs from the not! of hurting. We do things between the not of aphasia to make the not! of pain. To hurt is to get frustrated, to feel inept, to feel alone, adrift, sinking, helpless. All these hurts include loss in all of Halifax’s territories plus the multidimensional space of all six senses, but those losses are not the same as the losses of aphasia. We add to the losses of aphasia when we do hurting, particularly when we feel ashamed of our condition. We will look into shame in the next few posts.
Note. I’m just pointing towards the processes involved in suffering. Please do not read into the above any attempt to blame the victim. Hopefully this will become more clear in subsequent posts.