Naked as we came

August 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm (Uncategorized)

 

Decided to use a random quote generator and do a free write:

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.” 

 -John Maynard Keynes

 

John. Maynard. Keynes. Interesting that this is the  quote, because in addition to being (generally speaking) a believer in Keynesian economic theory, what a wonderful little sentence this is. I have written before of my love of words and the English language, but this is something that cuts to the core of me.

Words are magical things; the appropriate one at the appropriate time can perfectly symbolize otherwise abstract moments or thoughts. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the perfect word can be more than a picture. It can be an image, an emotion, a descriptor that conveys the essence of humanity. Which I think is super cool.

One of the things I love about English is that it IS wild. It ebbs and flows, it steals from everyone else, it is constantly evolving. As humanity changes and grows so does our language, and while I can only speak for English (and mediocre Spanish) I know exactly how true it is that words can be tiny cannons fired at the the battlements of ignorance and the “unthinking.”

One of my favorite novels of all time is “The Phantom Tollbooth.” I read it over and over as a kid, and though a children’s novel it holds up well. There is a moment where all of the sound has been stashed away in a castle, but the protagonist Milo catches a single word on the tip of his tongue when he’s visiting said castle. He places the word (a stifled “but” if memory serves) in a cannon, and when they fire it the walls come crashing down and all the sounds of the world are released again.

In such a way the right word at the right time can have large repercussions. I do my best to use the best words I can at the right times–it’s an inexact science but something that I think is valuable.

I was involved in a conversation in book club today where we talked about how radio waves never really die. They get diluted, but when you say something or play something it travels on into infinity. In that way, we are all in some sense immortal. To me that underscores the notion that what we say is important, that we should treasure our words, and not speak simply to speak but when we have something to say. I am all about the examined life, and examining our speech is a good place to begin.

 

 

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