“My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything.” –Joseph Conrad
Worlds mean the word to me, right? Did you get caught by that Spoonerism? I enjoy Sci-fi as much as anyone can casually, without devoting a ton of time to learning a new lexicon. Astronomy doesn’t capture my attention as much as it could. Astrology, while curious, doesn’t pique full interest. If anyone has ever wondered, where does this dipshit get all these fancy words? Can’t you speak in normal English? Keep reading!
What does capture my attention? Well, words do. As a more than casual logophile, I love some time in a dictionary or a thesaurus. I have even been known to jot notes, unrelatedly, from a crossword puzzle dictionary. This book is essentially a thesaurus in its own right.
Why do words mean the world to me? Subtext. Intonation. Constructs. Syntax. Emphasis. Redundancy. Careful placement of words denotes something in the world I live in. It denotes heralded respect for the words that come out of one’s mouth. Wit comes from careful construction of syntax. Drama comes from emphasis and intonation. Politics comes from subtext.
Are you seeing a pattern here, Bueller? One word dripping with intonation, can, arguably, infer something altogether different than what was said. We have all fallen victim to this switcharoo from time to time. One word oozing with emphasis can be mentally retained as an object to focus upon, for the audience listening for it.
I have given plenty of thought as to why, on Earth, do words mean so much to me? What I believe I am figuring out is, through the abuse I suffered as a child, I did not live in a static or stable environment. Words and slurs hurled in my direction, by those who should have cared more, maybe, I don’t know, just assuming they should have, were teeter totters. Sort of like Lady Justice, with her scales. These words fed into my psyche, which helped form (or destroy) my sense of self.
I would win plenty of spelling bees as a school child. I was a voracious reader. I consumed as much as I could, because I didn’t have siblings to bicker with, I didn’t have neighbor kids to play with, and I had virtually no responsibilities in life, except chores. Taking care of animals and doing dishes were some of my chores.
Animals and words were a constant source of comfort to me. Words were weapons, and I learned from some of the best. Sarcasm is the cannon, words are the cannonballs. Words as weapons in the wrong minds, is nothing short of catastrophic. I am quite sure, each and every one of you, can identify with when words were wielded as weapons directed at you.
Our birth is populated with words (Birth announcement), our death, again, populated with words (Obituary). Words cripple, words heal, words deceive, and words bring truth into focus. Words have more power than science, which again, relies on, you got it, WORDS.
We imbibe words daily. We either hear them, we read them, or we watch them below cinema. We consume words at a far greater rate than we burn through money. A picture is worth, exactly HOW many words? Are we all speaking the right currency here? Due to colloquialisms and shifts in culture, words rarely change their meanings. Yes, our dictionaries are being updated almost daily as new words or new cognates are added to our respective languages.
Why the close relationship with this fiery collection of letters? First of all, words in the craftiest of authors can take you worlds away from where you are in that moment. Second, they educate us. We are given a common language, which is almost mathematical in nature. Third, we communicate using them daily, even with non-verbal cues. Non-verbal cue such as a hand in the lap, while watching tv, simply says: I want to be right here, with you, in all the places in the world. It can be used to comfort or to reinforce punishment.
Words do not let me down. Words have no feelings, no emotions, or anything else that can be misunderstood. Only the orator of feelings can dictate any subtext, emphasis, or redundancy. On the other side, is the mental decryption of what has been shared by the orator. When we apply the hash check, we determine was the message just extolled devoid of subtext, emotions, or anything that would lead me to disbelieve them?
Someone who carefully chooses their words, could sometimes be construed as slow to thought. They could also be seen as slow to anger, or a whole host of other pervasively bad emotions. A slow and methodical delivery of a message also suggests there was a lot of thought behind what is being expressed. Feelings of the intended audience was taken into consideration.
I’ve been in the midst of someone who thinks very long and hard before he would open his mouth. It taught me something. It wasn’t a political gesture. It was him considering the gravity of his message. This man was a mentor to me. When he first used a cuss word with me, when I went home to my mother’s funeral, I was flabbergasted. I went to a private Christian school. He was himself. I was imprinted upon.
The subtext became content multiplied by context. I saw a different picture of a man I had already respected. The respect ballooned because of how much of a human he was. This man died last year, overseas. I never got to say goodbye to him. I never get to be in his presence anymore. I never get to share words. What I do get are the lasting memories of our debates, the laughter, the shared tears (because the fucker actually spanked me at the Christian school), his integrity, and his honesty all are within my fortress.
When he spoke, I listened, but I wasn’t the only one. The words he shared were well thought out and devoid of selfishness. It’s no wonder he became my non-volunteered mentor. He was stability. Words equaled stability, when used correctly. I came from instability. I have been pining for stability and it was in front of me the whole time.
I recently shared a story with a friend of mine when I decided to arm innocuous words, against my college sociology teacher. Forewarning: My sociology professor was Jewish, and it was around the second intifada over in Israel and the West Bank. Nothing about this section should be construed as anti-Semitic. it was a battle of ideologies and words (not racist words).
The sociology course mandated getting a New York Times subscription from the college bookstore, every day. The reason, to read through current events and discuss sociological issues in class. I had already had time to research what was going on over in the Middle East, as I had been chatting in Yahoo chat rooms about politics. So, give me a NYT, and boom, I have a new source of information. I didn’t choose to talk about it because I knew my teacher was Jewish. I chose to talk about it because I was already in the know about it.
I didn’t find out the professor was Jewish until a couple of weeks into these discussions. I was a matriculated student, so I was there to learn, not to be woken up by a teacher. I spoke. I spoke my mind, articulating the excessive forces used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who would kill quite a few civilians while tracking the bombers killing Israeli citizens. This was a daily event. Cat and Mouse battle. Terrorists hiding amongst civilians, excess military forces mowing down people. I’ve never lived through this, but I can certainly theorize the fear on both sides of the border.
Our sociology professor has us write papers, and this is where I felt the scorn. Some of you can tell, I can use words fairly effectively. I didn’t need a school to judge my abilities. I started getting some fairly low grades. Shy of a B and into C grades, consistently from this professor. That ignited my rage. I would argue with him about the validity of syntax and word choice, to no avail.
At this point it became a personal affront to me. I then dug my heels in. I found dictionaries with some of the most obscure words that are rarely used, just to add to my papers. I was trolling the teacher with fucking words. I armed my words. I didn’t use words of hatred or judgment. I went out of my way to find arcane lexicon for my assigned papers.
In the end, he wrought his vengeance by the final grades. One of the few classes I did poorly in. I walked out of that class happy I still passed and knew I had been graded through the conduit of prejudice. I spoke of something uncomfortable to someone who felt that his people were being attacked senselessly. The empath in me can appreciate how much it affected him, but it also outlined an Achilles Heel of a professor, who ought to show impartiality.
I weaponized innocuous and arcane words. Sarcasm also weaponizes words. Silence arms non-verbal words. Passive-aggressive behavior barrages confusing words. This is NOT stability. Name calling is nothing short of ammunition. Crass words can lead to death. Tell me I am wrong, I dare you!
Thing of bullying. THOSE ARE WORDS hurling senselessly. These are not the words that an empath would chuck about without fear of reproach. Words are used to impassion killers, think military and/or police. Words can save lives, think Death Penalty Lawyers. Words can entice struggling people to rid themselves of the pain, think suicide of any generation. Our own thoughts are napalm. Scorched earth policy to wipe out the positivity.
Words make us feel good. Words can kill us. Words are terribly important to some people. People like me value words. The value is in the stability of the structure. These little tools have been responsible in my fantasies. It’s been incredibly useful to be a fairly effective communicator. If you use your words flippantly, then do not expect to draw anyone in. Words can help further develop your persona.
If you use your ideas, thoughts, and spoken words to devalue people, please just fucking stop. We all have some shitty battles and don’t need to be buried under your baggage. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you are going to say something that hurts, then be willing to accept the consequences. We all shouldn’t need to rely on the NAACP, ADL, ACLU, or any other organization to protect us from foul thoughts.
As always, I welcome any constructive criticism, or complementary theories, analogies, anecdotes. I would love to hear if you find these edicts of challenge useful or utter horseshit. Similar to the 90’s when the catchphrase, ‘Be Kind, Rewind’ was hailed as marketing genius. I need to come up with one that invites you to either subscribe, via WordPress or via email, like posts, or even comment on posts. The immediate feedback is useful for anyone. Thank you very much for reading through all of this drivel. Be well, stay safe, AND stay sane!