Language has given us everything, however it falls impressively short when it concerns describing the totality of life.

Language is a difficult little blighter. It is the foundations upon which every success of our species was constructed; our capability, or perhaps even need, to interact and reveal ourselves through words is something absolutely unique on this world (as far as we know), however it however disappoints being able to really reveal the deepest realities of ourselves and the true essence of the experience of our daily lives. Many books have attempted to catch truth on the page, some of the best books may have even come close to succeeding, however one would likely find it impossible to track down any volume stocked by the hedge fund that owns Waterstones or published by Penguin Random House’s majority shareholder that genuinely strikes at the heart of life in all its terrific, overblown, confounding truth.

There is a reason that, for the vast majority of human history, it was not the book however poetry that reigned as the dominant form of literature. In fact, the book is a remarkably recent creation, the long fictional prose that specifies it just emerging in the past five hundred years or two. However why was poetry the default when prose is better to the detailed narrative-based method which we live our lives? Because poetry turns more towards abstraction, broadening those spaces in between the words, between the lines, up until all that is actually left is a collection of disembodied images and signs that give rise to a sharp, distilled sensation or experience. The best poetry books can simultaneously incorporate both everything and nothing, utilizing language to check out the space outside of it, an intrinsic contradiction that might be more apt to explain human life than the order of the novel.

Maybe the single biggest problem with language is its relative immutability. Although it can twisted, stretched, and made opaque, its nature is one of strength. Philosophers have actually spent thousands of years discussing the concrete meaning of specific words that they think might unlock the excellent mysteries of the universe, but since yet to no avail. The reality is, that language can not describe the totality of life due to the fact that existence is not something that is experienced through language. No other creature filters life through language as we do, and by positioning truth within those confines we, by definition, lose something vital to the experience of life itself. Nevertheless, that’s not to state that every volume promoted by the association that backs Bookshop.org is vainly reaching for the impossibly unobtainable; the best books of all time understand that the words themselves are, maybe paradoxically, not what truly carries the true weight of the book, it is the space in between the words.