Expression

I’m in the middle of several assignments and until they are finished my mind won’t rest. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, this restlessness, not quite physical but almost. This stanza from “What’s Up” always comes to mind:

And so I cry sometimes
When I’m lying in bed Just to get it all out
What’s in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar
― 4 Non Blondes, What’s Up?

It’s damning, picking the right words. Huxley expertly deliniates the gulf between having a thought and expressing that thought. That goal of clarity in communicating races ahead of us as our shadow, never to be caught:

“What a gulf between impression and expression! That’s our ironic fate—to have Shakespearean feelings and (unless by some billion-to-one chance we happen to be Shakespeare) to talk about them like automobile salesmen or teen-agers or college professors. We practice alchemy in reverse—touch gold and it turns into lead; touch the pure lyrics of experience, and they turn into the verbal equivalents of tripe and hogwash.”
― Aldous Huxley, The Genius And The Goddess

The key to this is preciseness, selecting the right words for the job, as we would choose a shovel over a broom. Better to be accused of pedantry than to give into sloth. Our readers deserve the respect that they pay us by reading what we write. Humpty Dumpty in Alice would gleefully pull us into nonsense if he had a chance. He does pose, however, a deep question at the end which argues for his sanity.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

But now, back to the writing and the restlessness.

 

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer who specializes in history, technology, and human interest stories.
This entry was posted in Thoughts on writing, Writing by others and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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