Friday, 9 May 2014

A complex relationship with language

. . .or a language complex. . .

Reading kills meaning
as writing slays word.s
Language a slag heap
of bloodied nouns,
broken adjectives,
twitching verbs.

There is a certain type of former English major who suffers a form of literary ptsd. I am one of them. Pursuing my degree ruined me for pleasure reading (simple pleasure reading, anyway--now I always always must analyze what  is being read on a more complex level). Likewise, my ability to string a sentence together in a way that seems clever without sounding trite has been torn from me, and I bumblefuck my meaning across, bleating like a tongueless antelope. (See?)

It's like there are two extremes of interaction with language, and only a certain personality type is able to walk the knife's edge between the two and experience true literary contentment. On the one side, we have an extreme where things like reading and writing seem so dull, onerous, and unnecessary, that individuals would rather lick sandpaper than read a line of Shakespeare. Let us call this extreme that of literary ignorance. People in this category much prefer swifter forms of communication like texting. At the other extreme, we have individuals who find themselves so trapped in a neverending Hell of literary analysis they would rather stab out their own eyes with forks than read another line of Shakespeare. Let us call this extreme that of literary over-saturation. This would be the category I fall into, I think.

Could the ever narrowing gap of literary contentment between these two extremes be part of why language itself seems to be going the way of the dodo? Are we all so impatient with language, or so worn out on it, that we would rather grunt and stab at small screens with our thumbs than communicate openly with our tongues?

I don't have an answer. Ask me again when I'm not running a fever.


  1. a) In the two categories you've described, at least the second has some form of self-awareness going for it. The first years I've taught don't know that they're almost illiterate. b) There are so many other things to read other than the most formal of literature. For instance, bored with the traditional "summer reading shelves" at the library, I've started reading Canlii for my relaxing summer reading. Clearly written sentences (which one can barely find anywhere else) and interesting and endless subject matters!

    Good luck with the fever and the reading.

  2. Thank you! Will have to look into Canlii. I'm almost finished the book about the post-apocalyptic wiccans . . . -_-u. . .maybe this is my problem. . .