Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Articulation and Flinging

By Susan Esther Barnes

In her book A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist Journey, Merle Feld writes, “What is a prayer? A prayer is the articulatiion of something very particular at the core of one's being, flung out into the universe. Perhaps it finds a mark, perhaps not. The essential thing is the articulation and the flinging.”

I agree about the importance of articulation and flinging. Although one may or may not call what I write prayers, what I do when I write is exactly what is described above. I do it because I feel compelled to do it, not because I expect to get anything back. However, I do also spend time pondering what happens to my words after the flinging.

After I write something, which for me is the culmination of the articulation part, I then need to decide what method or methods I will use to fling it. There are a couple of people to whom I email a good number of the things I write. The main reason they remain on my tiny email list is they often respond with words of encouragement and/or enthusiasm. This gives me the idea they don’t consider my emails to be a complete waste of their time.

Sometimes I send something to someone because what I wrote was inspired by them or mentions them in some way. These are generally one-time-only flings and I don’t add these folks to my email list unless they specifically request it.

There are a number of people to whom I have sent my writing but from whom I have received no response at all. This leaves me with a bit of an awkward feeling. I don’t know what it means, and I suppose in each case it probably means something different. It is unlikely I will send any of these people more of my writing, however, unless I happen to write something else that mentions them.

On the other hand, on at least one occasion, something I wrote was forwarded by others to a number of different email lists – a sort of turbo-flinging which was quite interesting to watch.

Another method of flinging involves my efforts to publish things I have written. Without much effort on my part, I have managed to have things published in my synagogue’s newsletter, a local newspaper, and a literary journal. To a certain extent, these venues provide some validation to the value of my flinging, since if the editors didn’t think my writing would be interesting to their readers, they wouldn’t be willing to participate in my flinging by publishing it. Unfortunately, with this type of flinging most people who read what I publish have no easy way of telling me what they think about it.

My newest venue for flinging is this blog. The idea of a blog appealed to me because it has the potential for a wide audience and also provides a method for easy feedback. After three months of blogging, the statistics tell me I have a small but steady stream of people viewing the blog, and they’re staying long enough on an average visit to read one or more of my posts. However, even after I started to allow anonymous comments, almost none of my blog visitors posts a comment. I suppose that’s normal, but it does leave me wondering what my visitors like or dislike about the blog, whether they’re passing on to others anything I’ve written, or what other effect, if any, my articulation and flinging has had on them.

Like prayers in general, it’s a matter of faith, this articulation and flinging without knowing what, if anything, happens after the fling.


  1. I love this idea. It's true that you may never know exactly what happens to what was flung, but you know something must. Or else you'd stop flinging. It's an exercise in the possible. It's only because you imagine something good coming of it, that something does.

    I'm glad you reminded me of Merle Feld. This idea became the topic of a song, although we did not remember at the time where it came from. Flung by her, fell on us. There you go.


  2. Fred, I'll look forward to hearing that song. May the flinging continue.

  3. Hit up the web site. It's called "Arrows Fly".