WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS—IS OFTEN NOT TRUE
MIND YOU, EVERYONE KNOWS THAT
IF A WRITER’S JOB IS TO ILLUMINATE THE HUMAN CONDITION (AND TRY AND MAKE IT A LITTLE BETTER) DOES THAT MEAN WE SHOULD QUESTION THINGS—OR MERELY ILLUMINATE
When in doubt I tend to look up the meaning of a word. Where English is concerned, not only do we have a ridiculous number of words, but they often have several meanings. You know one, and feel safe—and then another meaning comes along and thumps you.
I’m amazed we are able to get through the day. And then tone comes into the picture—and body language. The English get over the latter by not having any. Accents—which denote class—and the stiff upper lop suffice—though they rather like irony.
In contrast, you use irony in the U.S. at your peril—unless you are Jon Stewart.
And to think English has become the international language of just about everything? Oy Vey! What’s wrong with Yiddish anyway?
Illuminate is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
- brightened with light
- intellectually or spiritually enlightened
I’m feeling much relieved. The first definition suggests that a writer should function as little more than a literary lamp-post. However, “intellectually or spiritually (Why not both?)” allows us writers to do pretty much anything. Questioning comes near the top of that list.
Or nothing—which comes first. We writers call the latter “thinking.”
It’s a hard thing.
VOR words 220.