When a Wiggly-Monster Was My World

When a Wiggly-Monster Was My World
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Efrat Dahan, film-maker, Israel
David Olimpio, writer, USA


When a Wiggly-Monster Was My World is a reflection on how we use language, and how it can color our personal and cultural conversations.


My mom used to take me to a Presbyterian church whose minister was vocally Pro-Choice. For a time, parishioners from nearby churches, convinced of the absolute correctness of their own religious discernment, stood outside our church and protested it on Sunday mornings. They yelled at us as we drove into the parking lot. They held up signs that said things like: "Your church believes in killing babies!"

Of course, our church did not believe in killing babies. To say something like that would be to use language incorrectly. Even if you considered an "embryo" or a "fetus" a "baby" it would be a fundamental mistake to say that our church believed in killing them.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The act of writing is inherently flawed (and libel) and the errancy of law (and bible), with it's many versions and glosses, is the only thing we can divine precisely. Words are symbols for expression. They are stand-ins for thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are elusive things to know, even when they are our own. Sometimes the best way to describe a thing honestly is to use metaphor.

Take a word like lógos (Λόγος), Greek for "word." It appears 330 times in the New Testament. When it is translated into English for the King James, it is translated as "word," but also as "saying," as "account," and as "speech," among several others. John's use of lógos is translated into English as these words too, but he stands out among the other authors of the Gospels in using the word lógos as a metaphor for God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


Fifteen weeks into a much-wanted pregnancy, my wife and I terminated. It was unplanned and involuntary, this termination. It was unwilled and yet it was something we did completely of our own volition.

Here are some of the words she and I used to describe the fetus she had inside her, which stopped being on an otherwise pleasant afternoon in July:



Wiggly Monster.

For a few weeks one summer, these words were our world.


Our language is our truth. It is our world. It is our god.

Is there thought—is there anything—without a word to describe it? Has there ever been?

Words are how we understand one-another. They are how we love. And at the same time, they are how we lie. They are how we misinform. They are how we hate.

Here is the most honest thing I will ever say to you:

I have loved everything in my life, absolutely.

And yet I have continued to live when everything absolute and true has left me.

And so I worry that my only absolution need be for the sin that I have never truly loved anything.


Animix Festival, Israel, 12 August, 2017 (documentation)
Drew University, USA, 9 September, 2017


Moving Poems, USA, 31 August, 2017
Synaesthesia Magazine, UK, 3 December, 2018


Efrat Dahan is a freelance animator, film maker and illustrator from Israel. She works on a variety of both personal and commercial projects.

David Olimpio grew up in Texas, but currently lives and writes in Philadelphia. He believes that we create ourselves through the stories we tell, and that is what he aims to do every day. He is the author of This Is Not a Confession (Awst Press, 2016) and the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Atticus Review, a literary journal. You can find more about him at davidolimpio.com, including links to his writing and photography. He Tweets and Instagrams as @notsolinear.
For their contributions, advice and assistance, thanks to:
Alison Pridham, Aljaž Koprivnikar, Ari Raijas, Bill Mousoulis, Brendan Bonsack, Brian Short, Bronwen Manger, Caroline Rumley, Charles Olsen, Chris Luscri, Chris Windmill, Claudia Larose-Bell, Darko Duilo, Dave Bonta, David Quiles Guilló, Eduardo Yagüe, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Francesca Guiliani, Gemma Grist, Helen Dewbery, Ian Gibbins, Ivana Bojanić, Jackson, Jane Glennie, Jim Robson, Karen Dawson, Kathryn Darnell, James Meetze, Lino Mocerino, Liran Shachar, Lois P. Jones, Lori Ersolmaz, Lucia Sellars, Lucy English, Luigi Starace, Maria Vella, Marc Neys, Martin Kelly, Matt Hetherington, Matt Mullins, Mike Hoolboom, Nigel Wells, Pam Falkenberg, Paul Casey, R.W. Perkins, Sissy Doutsiou, Sylvia Toy St Louis, Vicky Mousoulis, the film-makers, writers and their collaborators.