There is a common perception that there are certain things and experiences that words can't touch. These things and experiences, we imagine, are sublime, tearing at categories and sense and hence words. Any attempt to speak such things, we presume, is not just futile but sacrilege — as if words sully the divine perfection of the experience.
But I think this view does not quite grasp what words are, what words can do, and how they stand towards and with the world. Words don't name things. Or, rather, they don't only name things. Words are themselves experiences that at once construct and tear at categories, sense, and perhaps themselves.
Words are not just the way we order the world. They are the way we re-order the world, over and over again. When we speak and write well, we are at the border of sense and non-sense, the world coming in and out focus, in and out of chaos, in and out of order.
I want to suggest, then, that while certain things and experiences may be unnameable, they are not ineffable. Words are events that interact with other events. When we speak some sublime experience — an experience that cannot know categories or concepts, an experience that is utterly itself, sui generis and infinite — we don't necessarily domesticate its unwieldiness. We don't necessarily categorize it, move into the realm of the known, into the realm of safe knowledge. We do not necessarily profane its sanctity.
Words are not just sounds and marks. Look at these words here. Look at the spaces between the letters, between the words, between the paragraphs: there is space. The same is true when we speak (at least usually; sometimes, I do drone on and on). Silence and emptiness is an essential aspect of language.
When we use words well, we put them in flow with the world — with its knowledge and its sublimity, its sounds as well as its silence, with its order, its chaos, its moods and affects, its things and facts. Language can be as delirious as experience. Isn't this one task of poetry? In this sense, everything is effable, even if many of the best things are unnameable.