Before Adam leaves the Garden, God brings animals to him for naming. Adam uses language that is concrete and specific, the language of pure naming. However, after Adam eats the apple, his language breaks down. He equivocates. He blames Eve. He confesses yet he rationalizes. These breakdowns and mix-ups lead to the possibility of interpretation, that is, language as having more than one meaning. Zornberg’s point is Adam learns to use flexibly tensed speech. This allows meaning to be continuously transformed. (Speech and language in this context includes feeling states and depth of communication.)
Just as scholars such as Zornberg interpret many levels of meaning in biblical texts, so we in psychotherapy address the implicit underpinnings of our conversations. We also want to transform speech so as to see the world in new perspectives. This is a creative process that allows for free associations and new configurations of ideas.
It is similar to an artist who wants to continuously press forward and not stay with old, comfortable patterns. Currently, there is a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Frank Stella’s work. He is seen as a minimalist painter yet he is not. Even in his so-called early minimalist days, there is vast depth to his work. His oeuvre has progressed astronomically from his early black grid-like works to paintings that are more like sculptures, to full blown, complex sculptures such as his Indian bird series or his huge, silver metallic sculpture, Raft of the Medusa. This portrays the disastrous raft built after the wrecking of a French Royal Navy frigate, the Medusa, a tragedy in 1816 memorialized by the French painter Géricault.
Stella is constantly finding new ways to use space, including incorporating state of the art technology, even now as he approaches his 80th birthday. Regarding the artistic process, Stella sees the importance of boundaries that define but do not limit. He writes: “The essence of freedom… is something that is able to overcome its own boundaries. The question is not only to be able to define things, but also have the boundaries felt in the proper way – they are defining but not limiting.” He could have been writing about psychotherapy.