Saturday, November 20, 2004

...and so it goes.

I seem to be spending more time staring into the middle-distance just beyond the monitor screen than I spend actually writing any words, this week. (Imagine a heavy, self-pitying and wretched sigh.) Sheer laziness in action, I imagine.

Red-herrings of thought lead me down blind alleys of speculation: Where do the words with which we tell our stories come from, to begin with? Not the language itself--I understand that, well enough. (Hey! I heard that snicker...Knock it off!)

I am transfixed by the idea that we can apply words to things we only imagine. We use words to describe a wil-o'-wisp of dreamed idea to transfigure that idea into a tale. Then we tell that tale, either in written or spoken form. Human beings have been doing so for untold generations. It's a mighty alchemy. It seems, as near as I can tell, to be an actual human need...and even those with little or no aptitude for tale-crafting show evidence of feeling that need.

Admittedly, many of the stories we tell serve a moralistic purpose. Didactic in nature, the tale-spinner has an agenda hidden (or not-so-hidden) inside the words. However, we also tell stories that quite obviously serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. How else do you explain Joey?

The ability to create fiction seems to me an awe-inspiring thing. From the tiny white lies we use to soothe our friends and loved ones ("Oh don't worry--it's no trouble at all, really,") to the multi-volume would-be epics that everyone stopped reading after about book seven--and yes, I'm talking about precisely that author you think I might be talking about...but I only made it through book five.

Our words give our thoughts shape. Words provide escape for those concepts that otherwise would be trapped forever inside of us, transforming what would otherwise be terminal alienation into mere solitude.

There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled;
cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense; for war is the
slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale
as possible. [Jeanette Rankin, 1929]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a heck of a post, Mac. Very insightful and well-crafted. I'm impressed!