madness in the throat

A threat
is a


with a bite

… taken out of it

threat (n.)  Old English þreat …


… “crowd, troop,” also “oppression, menace,” … from PIE *trud- “push, press

press (v.) … “to press against, …


… exert pressure,” also “assault, assail;” …  from Old French presser “squeeze, press upon; torture

press (n.) … “device to squeeze juice from grapes, …

o live

… oil from olives, cider from apples, etc

pressure (n.) … late 14c., “suffering, anguish; act or fact of pressing on the mind or heart

A little while ago I promised my friend Max an article that offered something better than sex.

What’s more this ‘something’ does not require the presence of any other person, object, place or knowledge.

No wrist action is involved.

And despite the cryptic opening to this article, sadomasochism is not part of its agenda.

This is that article.

~  ~  ~


Have we
gone mad

mad throat
in our throats

mad (adj.) … late 13c … “out of one’s mind” (usually implying also violent excitement) … “rendered insane“.

You see it seems to me, that at some point in our lives, our minds were forced out of their full-bodied experience & …


… stuffed insanely down
our throats.

Where they have been trapped  …


… ever since.

Today we investigate the notion that we are a language-drugged society whose personal drug-lab is located in our throats.

How many of the following apply to you? Do you

reading woman

read in your throat?

loud and silent

‘word’ in your throat?

dark neck

think in your throat?

black out

hold fear in your throat?


attack from your throat


shut out the world
with your throat?

How many of you relocated your heart …


to your throat?

What is going on in your throat right now?

Try to read while you’re humming, hissing, or whistling – and the words will mean nothing to you. Anything that interferes with your ability to  speak your words to yourself stops reading cold


… Reading by speaking the words silently is a habit you picked up when your first learned to read. Remember how you read aloud to the class until your teacher instructed you to read to yourself instead? That was the same as reading out loud except you didn’t let the sound come out. As you read this, hold your fingers to the sides of your throat, and you’ll feel your vocal chords at work

When we exchange life for words we lose our reality. How can your life have solidity when you replace objects with a sound.

Children experience the world as it REALly is, but are schooled into translating life into words.

Over the years their bodies are ‘stilled’, and movement is relegated to their tongue and voice box. This is a crime against their well-being:

  • forcing children to ‘word’ puts them at a massive disadvantage because they do not have the years of experience with word-sword techniques that the adult has.
  • our language is a court-format language where proof is demanded, alibis are required & sense must be rationalised – again & again this structure denies the reality of children’s felt -body experience.

A superb way to restrict movement
on a landmass is to …

por kwai

… take out, or control,
its bridges.

The throat is the …

bridge to the body

… bridge
between brain & heart/body.

Our throats are now used to squeeze the juiciness out of experience & leave it dried. What should work as an ‘energy transit’ has become a device for …


…  compacting life into words.

Acceptable words.

Our words must be shaped & phrased in a highly specific way so that everyone can find their way round our descriptions without thinking.

Rather like …

no thinking required

a supermarket.

Do words block the heart from experiencing?

We started out with the word threat – this can be rearranged into ‘hatter‘ – taking us back into madness:

[When] The Hatter … tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at her celebration, she sentenced him to death for “murdering the time,” … The tea party, when Alice arrives, is characterised by … making short, personal remarks, asking unanswerable riddles and reciting nonsensical poetry, all of which eventually drive Alice away

Did the Queen of Hearts recognise …


… the threat to life (‘murdering the time’) that is caused by “madness in the throat”?

For when the throat is jammed with words & fear, the heart must be put under a great pressure.

Ok then.

It’s one thing to contemplate (& maybe even agree) that our throats are choked. It’s quite another to hunger for our throat-bridges to return to their proper function.

If you don’t know that you want something, …


… how can you build up the necessary tension to create it?

So let’s go on a journey back into your body via the book Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing by Tim Parks. Parks is a well known writer, but this book is something quite different.

Let’s get familiar with Park’s story:

My body seemed alien and malignant. We couldn’t get comfortable together. Perhaps I am a parasite in my own flesh I thought and now the landlord has had enough. In the past I’d always imagined I owned the place


I had begun to envy people who were indisputably ill. I wanted to be seriously, seriously ill myself, so that people could see my condition and it would all be out in the open and someone would have to do something

In his searing search for understanding and health, Parks took a writer’s journey – he traveled via word. Yet his willingness to question his very livliehood, the use of ‘words’ makes this tale a far stronger medicine:

Do I try to write stories, I wondered now, because in general I have such a weak grip on the story of my own life? … Your stories and your illness are pathetically mixed up, I told myself … Every illness is a narrative

His willingness to question himself & the way he lived (& the way other writers have lived), also strengthens the case made by Alice Miller about artists & their childhoods, but that’s another article.

He becomes fascinated with a painting by Velasquez – it speaks to him, but without words:

selling water

This is silly. Like when I started thinking of the waterseller’s fig as the prostate. Yet I notice that my mind is more at ease with these eccentric analogies than with the information onslaught of the net.  I have the impression they bring me closer to some truth about my condition, but in the way dreams do. Something important is staring you in the face, only you can’t decode it.  It wont come out in word

He begins a journey back into his body – attempting to get there without words:

I was supposed to be paying attention, to tension.
Attention, tension!
But not verbalising.
Don’t verbalise.

I couldn’t feel any tension. Just the itch. Otherwise, what surprised me was a growing sense of space. Being very awake …  

strange landscape

… I was alone in a strange brooding landscape; under a low sky, I thought , damp hills perhaps, but invisible

Again & again he finds words marching through his inner landscape:

You are supposed to be concentrating wordlessly and thoughtlessly on tension … The pain surged to the fore. It was strong. You deal with pain by keeping in constant motion, I realised now. That was the truth. Even when I was still,  I moved … That kept the pain at bay.  And when my body was still my mind moved …

on the run

… My mind was in constant motion. All day every day

You are supposed not to be thinking.
Or  not supposed to be thinking.
Or supposed to be not thinking.
I moved the not. Language is always on the move

But there comes a day when his body begins to breathe:

A sea swell of pulses were criss-crossing the muscles. The tension in my cheeks was exactly superimposed over the tension in my calves, The two seemed to be the same … Parts of the body were calling back and forth to each other with little rippling pulsations …

Stop describing it!

Suddenly my belly drew a huge breath, absolutely unexpected, and a great warm wave flooded down my body from top to toe.

I nearly drowned. Shocked and tensed, I sat up and opened my eyes.

‘What in God’s name was that?”

This is a story told in words, but now words are used to give life, not suck it dry:

In the space of a few weeks, then, the mystery of this ugly, wearying condition had given way to the positive and inviting mystery of the body, the same body I had hitherto studiously ignoredIgnored in favour of interminable …

on the run again

… overheated mental activity … Like the wave that sometimes swept over me, any discoveries would present themselves when they wanted, when I was ripe for them.

… And for the first time in my life it was a mental task that had nothing to do with words. For decades now, I realised, all purposeful mental activity, for me had been linguistic: writing, thinking, reasoning, teaching, talking … When I did a sport, I turned all the mental side of it into words. I tried to work out in words how to do everything. How to head a goal in football. How to spin my kayak on its tail. …  Same with love-making. I worked it out in words …


…  Everything had to be lived through language, or it wasn’t lived at all … Then I possessed it

… If there was one consolation … it was that many of those around me were not much better off.  Not many people, I began to notice, were genuinely at ease … the question uppermost in my mind now became; would it be possible to change profoundly, in myself? Would it be possible … to unlearn this tense and somehow, I felt, language-driven behaviour?

Parks’ return-journey to his body demands the embodied experience of feeling, as opposed to wording:

But this morning I didn’t make it to the food. Leaving the meditation room, you stepped into the small garden …

looking out

… On the threshold, I felt a sob rising from chest to throat.

The novelty of the experience was that I was not feeling unhappy in any way.  Rather the contrary.  Also unusual was my immediate appreciation that what was happening was beyond the usual social controls. My body had decided to sob, the way when it’s ill, it decides to vomit.

I stepped aside to let the others pass and, to hide my face, turned to look out over the low garden parapet across the broad valley with its shreds of cloud and shafts of sunlight …


The weeping burst on my like a storm. I shook.

The crisis lasted half an hour. On two occasions I tried to go in to eat – I was hungry – but each time the emotion surged up with renewed force. My throat ached so I sat on a stone table under a pergola and continued to gaze through my tears across a valley which seemed intensely part of the experience, as if, there were nothing separating self and outside – I was truly in this huge panorama, mind and body, weeping.

Then, as though a voice were calling a class register, name after name was announced to my mind, people I knew or had known; and together with the names came faces, bodies, vivid expressions and gestures. One after another, faster and faster, these folk were crowding into consciousness. It was as if were some carefully engineered surprise party, a door had been thrown open and I was confronted with everyone who ever mattered to me … they were all here beside me …


… on the terrace under the pergola looking out over the valley … Like most people, I have sometimes been very unhappy, and sometimes very happy. But there had never been this outpouring, nor this feeling of being present, a mere witness, while something necessary unfolded. Had I wanted to resist I could not have done so

No matter how great the experience, we are still brought back to words:

The next meditation session was not till eight a.m., and retiring to my bed in the meantime, I called up a thousand bookish references to get a fix on what had just happened to me, to turn it, as always, into words.

… I laughed and discovered something that has served me well since: the more we threaten thought and language with silence, or simply seek to demote them in our lives from the ludicrous pedestal on which our culture and background have placed them, then the more fertile, in their need to justify and assert themselves, they become. Reflection is never more exciting than when reflecting  on the damage reflection does, languages never more seductive that when acknowledging its unreality

So here then is the thing
that is better than sex.

To live with moments & then more moments, without words in your throat.

It’s hard work, sometimes you think it is easy, but how did you think it was easy except by saying those words to yourself.

When there are no words  in your throat, the world becomes super real – isn’t that kind of what you search for with drugs and sex. The exquisiteness of the moment – but with drugs & sex the ‘super-reality’ we are seeking is not how things are, but how we  want them to be.

Without words in the throat
things are just exactly as they are.

Tragically we have lost our taste for reality. And that’s probably why we have to stuff words or food or drink or drugs into our throats.  Yet if we can get past, or at least allow ‘reality’, it seems to have an almost erotic quality – a long lost sensuality that has nothing to do with sexual orientation:

Things as they are. This bowl. The table … My hand. The blemished skin, a scarred knuckle, a dirty fingernail. Everything was intensely itself, source at once of fascination and indifference, Scattered crumbs, splashed milk. I gazed at them. As in a Cezanne, each object had been …


… set free from the mesh of human interpretation. A cup beside a slice of melon. Absolutely themselves. I say words now – cup, melon – but my mind at the time was wordless. The cup, the melon, were things without words, not in relation, not part of a sentence or a story. And there was no distance between us. I was in the cup, …


… I was sticky with melon. Raising my eyes, I looked at the young man across the table, cheeks freshly shaven, a red T-shirt, a tattoo on his middle finger. The tattoo mimicked a ring, etched into his skin. I watched. He was holding a biscuit, using a knife to smear it with pink jam. It was too intense. The jam was too pink. The strong fingers too present. I was touching them. The fingers were touching me. Watching was touching. Words protect us perhaps …


… Words keep the world at bay. I say that now. The thought didn’t occur to me then. I was tongue-tied, there in the middle of it all. I really was right there

Coming back to right here may require releasing our extreme dependence on words & finding other ways to communicate. Neither nature, nor our bodies, have words yet they have survived for eons.

Perhaps also the time has come to find ways to
use our language to build bridges,
instead of shutting them down.

~  ~  ~

Text in this colour from Teach Us to Sit Still – Tim Parks

August 28, 2013. Uncategorized.


  1. pete replied:

    I recently discovered a soulful singing voice, but it always leaves me when I put it to words. It only works when singing jibberish or what at the time seems non-sense. But sometimes the non-sense makes sense later. It seemed weird at first, but now it makes sense. I enjoyed reading the above (yours).


    • alex robinson replied:

      Wonderful pete! In art it might be called abstract. Perhaps we would all do well to try out our abstract voices


  2. Sinead replied:

    Wonderful wonderful!!! I have noticed before that when I read something I feel my throat moving, as if I am still speaking those words but they have no sound. Fascinating. I really really enjoyed this article. I feel that I have ignored my body for such a long time and it sends me messages to pay attention to it, through pain, or sadness. My body wants to dance and move, and I haven’t been giving it what it wants. I think we all have some making up to do and becoming re acquainted with our bodies. Wonderful article, as always Alex : )


    • alex robinson replied:

      Thanks Sinead :)
      So much of what calls to me now is about re-connection with my body / our bodies – there is MORE to come.

      I wish your body joy


  3. stephanie replied:

    whoa incredible article


  4. Max replied:

    I don’t know when in my life I managed to nail down my feelings with words. Maybe it’s impossible because they have been constantly changing. This was probably one reason the therapy sessions which I went through were unsuccessfull.

    With this article you fired up associations in my head like mad. ;-)

    One Jehova’s Witness teached me that the bible verse John 1:1 refers to Jesus as the Word because he was Jehova’s first creation and since
    then they started to communicate with each other.

    The Jehova’s Witnesses also teach that before and after his presence on earth jesus was and is the archangel Michael.

    Well, there is one danish actor Mads Mikkelsen who played a priest in Adam’s Apples.

    We better watch that we don’t get our throats cut wether it be by a knife like it happened to Isaac…

    …if our throats weren’t already cut. Then it is to us to heal.

    Herr Mikkelsen also acted as a mute viking warrior in Valhalla RIsing.

    Remember Matthew 10:34? It says “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword.”

    Maybe a prophet is some sort of throat warrior.

    Maybe I do something wrong when I try to nail my emotions down with words, i.e. sacrificing them.

    Thank you, Alex.


    • alex robinson replied:

      Excellent Max – I would say a prophet is a throat warrior – they cut the world apart & splice in a new future image via their throats/words. Its funny how willing we are to believe a prophet – I have been wondering lately how much prophets are the victims childhood trauma & how much of their pronouncements are based in the past. I have wondered about Nostradamus – I’ll bet if I looked I’d find reason to suspect this hypothesis is rooted in fact.
      Thanks for the links – it is interesting to see how different people’s life experiences relate to these ideas.


  5. serpentchannelzero replied:

    The first verse of this song, especially, is relevant. As always, I appreciate your articles.


    • serpentchannelzero replied:

      Heh The sound isn’t great on that video – here are the lyrics, in case you need them:

      Been spun around the galaxy, or so it seems
      I got caught up in these sounds I use to point at things and lost sight of the happenings
      Always, in the end, words fall short of what I meant
      And still it pleases me to classify through uttering, so forgive my muttering soul
      But I don’t know
      I’m dreaming this underwater-seeming, minor fantasy

      A diamond in a copper mine… The current flows,
      refracts, and shows me how to shine
      I could sing about the place and time I lost it all, but by Grace I can’t recall
      In a hollow, graphic universe – where infinite layers compress to 2 and add up to the first –
      where is the curse or blessing in killing and confessing?
      In no-ing or yes-ing?
      We’re all just guessing

      And our time is fading
      So if you would indulge this minor fantasy, you’ll see
      that I’m just dreaming to be free of seeming to be me

      Splitting all my differences, I rose to fall – but whose story is this?
      After all, it fits like skin of mine
      Myth, evolving through rhyme and sprawling through time
      And swimming through reality, I found a minor fantasy to follow
      and to dream


      • alex robinson replied:

        Thank you mr serpent – words can be used well – but it takes artistry, thought, care & a breaking of the rules – to say what needs to be said regardless of ‘propriety’ & the new accursed style of plastic-speak.


  6. chiller replied:

    If you live in a city , you are bombarded with words everywhere, we have closed us off to manage and get by. But we have become Unsensitive.

    Being in Nature a whole day without speaking and phone , internet etc.
    That will put you in the ”right mind” and will help become sensitive again with the senses and intuition.

    When I got back to Amsterdam, after a day in nature and with truly with mySelf, i notice much more intensely the ugliness of the buildings and filthy cars and the effect this has on people,
    all stressed and like not with themselves, like their mind has taken them over completely. Rushing to get nowhere.

    And the words with malintent energy behind them can grow in us , especially children who have not built up their walls yet and are openminded like whe should be.

    When traum hits us as a child, we tend to depersonalize , i call it spacin out,
    the problem is that you disconnect from the body as well. so we dont know anymore what happens there and the small amount of feelings we get we take as ”normal” , while it is just a fraction of whats goin on .

    If not (auto)corrected , we grow into cold, sick adults , we left the joi de vivre behind , the connection with the unlimited energy that we come from that we easily could feel when young.

    Thank you Alex for your perspective !


    • alex robinson replied:

      Yes words are being turned into parasites – gobbling up everything is sight. It takes a great deal of finesse & concentration to use words well – its as if they are alive. If we understood words are living, perhaps we would take much greater care.


  7. Minti replied:

    Absolutely wonderful! Thank you Alex


  8. suliwebster replied:

    “language barrier” comes to mind. Language is a barrier, methinks. Words are walls that imprison us.


    • alex robinson replied:

      I agree, the way we use language has become all too often a barrier – it is past time to create ‘conscious’ ways to use it to build, instead of using it to tear down & destroy


  9. Nixon Scraypes replied:

    Translating life into words,yes that’s what we’ve been taught to do so that the Controllers (emphasis on first syllable) can translate words into life.Con=cohn=cohen=priest.They form a concept out of words and by forcing it onto living people make us make it real.People who use words to describe life cannot concieve that the Controllers are working backwards,using words that have nothing to do with life,that are artificial concepts to direct life.Money is another artificial concept that has no life.It truly does not exist except as those very real coins in your hand which have only a symboic value. It’s a lot less bother to cage your slaves in words than fences! At this moment I’m having a hell of a job coercing words to announce their own downfall,they seem to have a mind of their own! Hah,know what I’m gonna do with you next you little bastards?Banish you to the other side of the world!


  10. cynicalseeker replied:

    I remember once trying to meditate using the mantra “Rama” – I was never successful in stopping the over activity of my mind through meditation – my art and music was much more successful in that endeavor. It was then I discovered if I speeded up the mantra – no longer making it coordinate with each breath – I was much more successful in keeping the thoughts out.

    Pertinent to this article, I also realized I was incapable of thinking the letter “R” without touching the tongue to the roof of my mouth. So I switched the focus of my meditation to concentrating on this. It was more successful in keeping the “drunken monkey” endless stream of thoughts out.

    I never tried this again.

    Forgive me for replying four years later to this blog post. I just discovered your blog through the Celtic Rebel. I like both your blogs and how you question everything. But a lot of what you say goes way over my head – and I thought I was somewhat intelligent! I am a foreclosure defense attorney, artist and musician, classical composer and folk songwriter. I am subject to crippling depressions and anxiety attacks that began when my marriage ended in divorce at the age of 21. I had a wonderful childhood with loving parents and sister. I have no idea why my adulthood is so messed up.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I don’t understand a lot of it, but it is interesting.


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