Sense it….Hence it….Enhance it…
February 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
The English language is seriously limited.
And it seriously drives me insane.
It’s like that name rhyming game that I played when I was a kid: Caitlin bo Baitlin banana fanana fo Faitlin mi my mo Maitlin. And then I would recite my brother’s name, my mom’s name, my dad’s name, until all I’m really doing is spewing a jumble of a nonsensical language similar to, but much less astute than, Lewis Carroll and his works. Even now, my roommates and I will have a conversation revolving around a particular idea, or word, or meaning, and without using any synonyms, the word suddenly becomes mashed up and loses any sense of meaning. Last night, it was on the subject of being cliche.
“I think it’s kind of cliche.”
“Well, it’s probably cliche because of the way we express things for everything.”
“I don’t think it’s cliche.”
“Of course it is. It has to be cliche. Do you know the definition of cliche?”
Even re-living this I can now see and feel the destruction of the meaning of the word, cliche.
It’s why I don’t say “I love you” a lot. You know, a girlfriend hangs up the phone saying, ” K Love you bye.” Or a boyfriend after a month and a half says, “I love you,” and then breaks up with you a month later. Or the heroine of Sparks’ latest movie, Dear John writes, “It only took two weeks to know that I love you, John.” And by the time we go to sleep at night, or hit middle age, the meaning of the word love has greatly reduced in meaning and therefore reduced in value. Sometimes I don’t even really know if I grasp the entire concept of love myself.
So I know that the Lord loves me. And I can recite the 1 Corinthians 13 verses backwards and forwards and in my sleep. And I know that the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross is the greatest expression of love I can ever possibly imagine, and that He loves me unconditionally. I know that my mother, my father, and–on some level–my brother love me with this familial type of love. A love that almost says, “I have to love you” but is reflected in a way that says, “I want to love you.” I know that my fiance loves me because when he knows I’m being ridiculous, or when I’m rambling, or when I’m completely wrong he gently leads me back to the right path. But after 22 years of hearing the words and the expressions found on those little sugary hearts being applied to everything and everyone, I’m not sure if I’m totally aware of the power, the depth, and the magnitude that love is and can be.
Our language, sadly, is limited. I’m a writer because I cannot express myself in any other way but words, but at times I feel things so strongly, so deeply, words (as cliche as it is) cannot express even remotely how I’m feeling. And what am I left to do then? I feel love, but how can I get across to expressing it so that you, reader, know without a shadow of a doubt exactly and honestly and truly and sincerely and uniquely this type of love is that I am at this particular moment feeling. It’s the same in my writing. I have a scene that I see so clearly in my head. Even the minutest of details are clear and sharp in my mind, so the only thing I have left to do is to spill it over a page. But words get in the way of images sometimes. I have a tendency to ramble, not find the right word, and sometimes because of the devaluation of the word itself, it no longer becomes relevant to the picture I am trying to create.
It’s like saying, “I’m sad.” What exactly does that mean? Because the word now has a gazillion different levels, not a single understanding can be concretely reached with that so simple of a sentence.
So I think writing is important. I think the best of the best paragraphs, descriptions, or sentences are found when you sit there with the character and the author and the three of you simultaneously have an “Ah-ha!” moment. Like in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Captain Wentworth simply tells her, “You pierce my soul.” And suddenly, you know exactly what he is saying. Or in John Donne’s “The Good Morrow”: “For love all love of other sights control.” Now that’s writing. That’s real good writing.
I think I was born with a pen in my hand. I’m sure my mother will laugh when she reads this, but that is what I think of myself. Not necessarily a prodigy, just a writer. And I have held the English Language up high on a pedestal, revering it, defending it, worrying it. But after 22 years of exploring the English Language, I have only met with occasional disappointment, much frustrations, and only a few “Ah-ha!”s.
It’s time to push it to it’s limits, and figure out what its capabilities are.