If I could say

Still wondering why you can’t describe Central Pain, nor, the emotional impact?


“I were but little happy if I could say how much” Shakespeare

Deep emotions are silent, like the deep of the ocean. Mysterious, isolated, historically lost, and never visited. The Marianas Trench in the western Pacific waters is a place so deep that it might as well be on Mars so far as exploration goes. This vast hole in the earth is so unknown and so unknowable that propositions for its use include mainly as a repository for nuclear waste. After all, what could come up from those depths. Well, plenty, actually.

After the Holocaust, there were a few, such as Primo Levi who managed to write of his experience. His anger was so great and his forgiveness so blank, that he set about to describe unimaginable suffering. Patrick Wall called him the only author ever to do justice to suffering. Much more common was the perception that description was futile. Indeed, only the photographs seemed capable of capturing the pitiless, unworldly, mechanics of the human abatoire.

Levi attempted to enlist others in recording the experience, including the two famous sisters who had survived a concentration camp against incredible odds, but these others were tired of trying to convince people. They could not undermine the experience they had survived by painting it in the ordinary words of the English language. Terrible suffering is nearly always unspeakable suffering. At some point the poverty of words is evident, and only photographs can capture a glimpse which speaks to the unbelieving, unconverted eye.

Extreme happiness is also beyond language. What does the mother say when assured that death will surely come to the burned child, only to hold the child healthy again in her arms. She may say “I am very happy.”, but what does that mean? And, what does “I am very sad” mean? What does it mean to say that Central Pain is the worst pain state known to man? Is CP one percent beyond everything else, or does it occupy a place so far distant from other experiences, that it is outside the reach of language entirely?

Adding to this is the fact that the pain sensations, at least the dysesthetic burning, is bizarre and not matched by any words in the English language, nor any other language. It is “dysesthetic burning”, but what does that mean? Words simply have no meaning if there is not a shared context of human experience. Central Pain just as well be designated by a number for all the good language does. CP has no vernacular.

I have Central Pain. I have but little pain if I could say how much.