Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Writing, Everything

Writing and the theory of everything

I was reading an article about the ‘Theory of everything,’ a math deal-ley and out of my league, because all my math skills consist of ‘close enough.’ What struck me was the concept of elegance-- for a thing to be truth, it must also be elegant. The world, to them, must not only make sense, it must also be pretty, simple and, in the end, obvious.

I think that I see words the way mathematicians see numbers. I think that there is one word or small group of words, that, when placed in the context of a time, can say everything. that needs to be said. That the correct placement of individual words on paper can bring about individual enlightenment on a Buddistic scale.

Words stand for things as sound, tone and meaning. They exist in a culture and can be given cult like status or depths of meaning far beyond the letters they symbolize. Say Hitler or even Adolf, and the words that follow will take on different meanings no matter their intention. Words get loaded with meaning over time and use. These are container ships of words – ready for their nitrogen and fuel oil deliveries. That’s cultural.

Some words can get jingled into place because they sound a certain way. Comics call them funny words, but I think they are words that don’t have flat surfaces or crevices to hold a load – they just jangle when an attempt is made on them. Think of bamboozled or shenanigans – or better yet, any adjective that jars a noun cock-eyed when used.

Some words are slugs of tone; misdirection’s and fakes – big dummies of words that take up space and occupy weight, but do nothing but add bulk to a sentence. They should be removed, unless you need the bulk to shape an explosion, or shelter a frailty of construction.

Words can be placed gently to lean on other words, they can forced together to make each other angry – they can dance around a common pole of meaning and radiate outwards like a quasar does.

Teaching sentence structure is like teaching Algebra I – it’s form not function. If you can’t just see what’s right in the first place – it becomes too complicated and won’t be remembered or valued – it’s just a thing you do to get an answer, not an art.

Good writing is like good coke – you know it and you know the difference. It’s elegant and makes you high; though too much without human companionship can make your venetian blinds bend in funny spots.

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