Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Matter of Fact

Verb and noun, matter has mattered to you as far back as you remember. "What's the matter?" "It doesn't matter." "Dear, dear, what can the matter be?" "Matter in its physical sense,occupies space, which contains rest mass which, in turn, may contain energy.

Matter, when used as a verb, continues to occupy space, but of a different-than-physical type. Matter, in its verb format, becomes a significance of importance, say a one or two on a scale of ten, thus consequential or inconsequential.

In your own idiosyncratic way, you've begun to use the verb/noun binary of matter to represent story. Aha. Every story has matter that matters more to some than others, in some cases even to the point of a protagonist, to whom something matters, has triggered an antagonist, for whom the thing of matter to the protagonist becomes such a threat that its neutralization becomes a matter of consequence to him (or, of course, to her).

Among the many distractions of the aging process, in seeming competition for your attention, you find considerable pleasure in the growing awareness of how words, in particular those with double and triple meanings, influenced your present day attitudes. 

These attitudes or, if you will, visions, have traveled over a sinuous, often precarious path, characterized by compound words, in particular those beginning with self-. you were (and are yet) characterized by self-interest, but you are also aware of self-doubt, polar instances of self-awareness, and , self-satisfying.

Your memory takes you to an early time when your maternal grandmother bought you a twenty-nine-cent dictionary at the then Thrifty drug store, southeast corner of Wilshire and Cochran, mid city, thus Miracle Mile, Los Angeles. You mention miracle because that was one of the first words you looked up in your remarkable acquisition. 

Even in those days, the 1940s, Los Angeles was the place where miracles could, and did, happen. Not always to your liking. Words such as miraculous, fantastic, astounding, stupendous, and discombobulating were even then a part of the ambient noise you heard as you, identifying with the protagonists of your early reading, sought your fortune.

You soon became preoccupied with words that had properties you would soon learn had similar properties to matter which, as you would learn, could be either wave or particle, in some cases both. Some words, indeed the word "matter," could serve as a noun or a verb. Looking at the history of the earth in any detail will cause us to regard various ages, Ice, for instance, or Stone, or Bronze. Looking at the history of you, there was, because of this binary resident within words, the Age of the Pun.

"Jesus," your father said one night at dinner, after one of your puns
"Don't worry,"Jack," your mother said,  "He'll get over it."
"It's a boy thing," your older by seven years sister said.

You took all three for granted at the time; they were, among other things, an audience upon which to try things.  For instance, you, some years later, at dinner, same audience: "Can you imagine what dinners must have been in the Huxley and James families, with everyone bursting with ideas to explore and great stuff going on all around them?"

"Jesus," your father said.
"Don't worry, Jack," your mother said. "He'll get over it."
"It's a boy thing," your sister said.

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