Daniel Tammet: Perception and What Poets Do

In my theory, language evolves in such a way that sounds match correspond with the subjective, with the personal, intuitive experience of the listener.

Words like numbers express fundamental relationships between objects and events and forces that constitute our world.

It stands to reason that we existing in this world should in the course of our lives absorb intuitively those relationships, and poets, like other artists, play with those intuitive understandings.

That’s exactly what we do as poets. We make use of the contours of words. We appeal to human, long-standing relationships with words–both their overt and inert meanings. Achieving harmony between the perception of words and the experience associated with them–that’s what makes poems “work.”

There’s another piece about style, about a unique approach to describing the world. But really what Tammet describes–“that the world is richer, and vaster than it too often seems to be”–that’s step number one in seeing the world like a poet.


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