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March 14, 2012

“Articulation” is one of the significant words in the vocabulary of Bruno Latour, which means it has risen up in my own vocabulary in the past year as I have been obsessively thinking about and with Latour. But I will get to Bruno later; right now I am thinking about the articulation of Nathaniel. The mental writing that I mentioned earlier was an ongoing attempt to articulate him and my reaction to him. What makes this task both very compelling and very difficult is that he was himself a person of intense articulation.

By which I mean he was strongly articulated, articulate, and articulating. Articulated in the sense that in all his actions and expressions, varied as they were, he was definite and particular. There was no vagueness in him as I perceived him. There were bold strokes and fine shading but no blur. He was distinctly what he was across the spectrum of his being. Articulate in that he brought the same quality to what he communicated through speech and gesture. Articulating because as a result of this he made the world more articulated.

And isn’t this an essential part of what we cherish about the people in our lives? That they bring focus and intensity to our reality, give it definition, increase its density. They bring some articulation into the world as we know it. They help us escape the blur, the blandness, the muzzy murk of things.

So maybe in meditating on Nathaniel I am trying to re-articulate for myself the world that he gave me, the distinctive vitality that was his to offer. I do this, you do this, with people who are still present in our lives as well, but it is after they exit and we no longer have the source to go back to that the task becomes especially urgent. Then all our love can do is turn inward, to the traces of memory, to follow them in our mind and discover again some articulate power, the world renewed.

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