August 19, 2008


Let me tell you of MY HISTORY with words.
ENGLISH words.
I was raised on words in BOSTON.
We consider ourselves KEEPERS OF THE LANGUAGE.
Even with our funny accents.
But then I entered the convent with nuns from all over.
And I lost a lot of words.
Then I went to TORONTO for eight years
where hardly anyone has English for a FIRST language
and being in the heart of LITTLE ITALY every fourth phone call
was in ITALIAN and I was the phone operator and all our staff were ESL.
And I lost a lot of words.
And then I was diagnosed with a non-functioning thyroid and that caused "brain fog" (yes, the technical term) for many years.
And I lost a lot of words.
And then five years ago
I almost died.
An experience far beyond words and poems and even music.
And I lost a lot of words.
Now they tell me words are DEAD.
That it's all about the viz-yoo-al now.
IMAGES. Post-word-literacy.
As much as I LOVE and USE
ALL the NEW media:
iPods, Bluetooth, txting, Flickr,
YouTube, Google, Facebook, cell phones,
digital cameras, Tivo and the like
I believe there is a qualitative difference,
not better, just different
when it comes to words
deep words vis-a-vis utilitarian words
deep reading vis-a-vis utilitarian reading
and it's not so much about words really
But now we're wading hip-deep into PHILOSOPHY and CULTURE and WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN
and I am not afraid of that. BIO! (Bring it on!)
They tell me words are DEAD.
Well I say: poppycock.
I am tired of losing words.
You will have to pry WORDS from my cold, dead fingers.

"Only a continuous tradition of gentle speech, with all its implications--the avoidance of boredom and vulgarity, the exchange of complicated ideas, the observance of subtle nuances of word and phrase--can preserve the written tongue from death, and lifelong habitude to such speech alone schools a man to write his own tongue."
--Evelyn Waugh

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