At the end of a rainbow

Lucy found her diamond sky

words, of all things

on June 12, 2015

I have often felt that my life has been one big anachronistic mistake by the cosmos, in which my birth a couple of centuries earlier might have made my existence more meaningful. I would get these pangs of realisation more acutely when penning down long letters to my mother by post, at an age and time of instant communication via phone, sms and other social networks. A written sentence is a crystallised form of thought, a wondrous testimony to one of the few things that truly make us human, and now, an endangered art. As Maria Popova remarks, it is “an art robbed of romance and even basic courtesy in the age of rapid-fire, efficiency-obsessed, typed-with-one-thumb-on-a-tiny-keyboard communication.” Indeed, it hard not to wince at the”hbd” (‘happy birthday’ for those uninitiated into SMS jargon) popping up at one’s FB wall. Why even bother wishing, if you feel pained to spend more than .03 seconds for the person? And what was your monumenal achievement in the time saved by turning those words into a mindless acronym? I am hard pressed to find convincing answers and, feel it to be symptomatic of larger problems ailing us. Our diminishing capacity to write reflects our growing problems of communication and disinterest in listening or expressing ourselves in an articulate manner. This isn’t a victorian rant of written propriety, but a reflection on the need to cherish words as artifacts of cultures and thought. After all, to some extent we are bound by words in our imagination; if we don’t even have a word for what we think, it is more than difficult to express it. Words are like those ladles that stir cauldrons of thought and imagination to a perfect soup for the soul. If we begin the downward descent of losing words in all their varieties and expressions, we perhaps also lose bits of our collective humanity. It would be a shame, if after all the history that came into being with the advent of written words, it were to be relegated to letters of little importance. Children wouldn’t have much to learn other than alphabets and their tiny combinations to construct sentences like, “LMBO IYKWIM”! Some call it inevitable evolution of language, but I see it as a genocide of words. If that seems like too romantic and idealist a position, well then, it is “PK” for you.

Happy birthday, Walt Whitman! Celebrate with “Song of Myself,” in gorgeous verse-by-verse illustrations by artist Allen Crawford.

(“Song of Myself,” in gorgeous verse-by-verse illustrations by artist Allen Crawford)


2 responses to “words, of all things

  1. Satyaki says:

    I hope you’re also aware of the phenomenon of tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)? tl;dr might be what happens to most of your readers (and mine of course). Haha

    • debbiebornfree says:

      Well, sometimes you just shoot arrows in the dark and hope it hits someone’s bum to cause that epiphany of realisation 😉

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