Sunday, September 2, 2012

Words


By the time you’ve ushered Sally through her last ladies’ room stop of the day, doused the lights, then trundled off to your Tempurpedic bed there to read until sleep lays claim, you’ll have made hundreds of thousands of choices, some of them quite conscious and deliberate, others not so.

In spite of the fact of reading in some source that the number is higher than your estimate, you’ll factor in your penchant for hyperbole, dithyramb, and other forms of exaggeration until you consult a reliable source you can name for certain.

This is important to you because there is another form of choice you make on a daily basis that defines you as well if not better than many others. 

When you are in the act of composing, you do your best to get contact with the narrative flow with as little intervening matter as possible.  In particular, you try to push thought in its most obvious forms to the back of the room, giving it some other task for the moment, offering it in advance your promise that it will have its due say when the time for editing and revision arrive. 

You often attempt to lull Thought into a sense of security by telling it that it is a valued member of the team, but for the next little while, you’re going to be relying on something you variously call Intuition or Process.  Remember, you’re all part of a team.  Chill for a time.

Process is important because you find yourself making associations you’d not made before. Perhaps the apt word there is consciously—associations you’d not made in a direct, conscious mode.  Perhaps you’ve long since made the association, but only now, while you’re in the midst of Process rather than Thought, does Intuition deem it high time to bring out the association, shine it up with a cloth, and present it as insight.

When you are in process, you tend to trot out such words as penchant and hyperbole and dithyramb.  Sometimes such a word, appearing before you when you are in a more thoughtful mode, throws you into a state of Process similar to the states of your early youth when you were frozen while putting on a sock and your mother would come upon you, see you, and wonder aloud if you were all right.  At the time, you knew well enough how well you were; you did not know to say, “Nothing wrong, Mom, simply in Process.” 

Earlier this week, while scanning Facebook, you saw your favorite word, a word you almost never see.  It somehow was the title of a book.  Tantivy.  You were thrown from Thought into Process.  Then you were thrown into envy of the writer who was able to persuade an editor to allow him to call his book Tantivy.

You now believe you are “in Process” when you are choosing one word at the expense of another, even to the point of knowing some editor somewhere will want you to consider the word you did not chose instead of the one you opted for.  

In some probability, your vocabulary got to the extent and attitude of its present state as a direct result of showing off.  Your interest in crossword puzzles enters the picture for two reasons, the recondite word brought in to fill a particular blank and the language of double-entendre used in the clues presented.  Is the word a verb or a noun?  Is it slang or standard language?  Nuance.

In the long run, you are writing to explain things to yourself, thus you do indeed use words you believe you understand, even to the point where, should you be questioned by the spell checker, you take your own side, even though you understand you are essentially not a great speller.

These are the choices you most enjoy.  These are more delicious than the choices you make while looking at a menu, or investigating the compartments of your refrigerator to determine what will be lunch or supper.
   
Words are nourishing.  Their care and feeding is a vital part of your sense of health and adventure.  They are rascally, much in the manner of cats, wishing to come in or go out.

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