Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why words are important

I suppose what I hate most about modern, anti-reader, anti-language, anti-word poetry is its inherently destructive nature. While most of its paragons are allegedly anti-big-brother types and allegedly pro-freedom, their hatred of language set the foundation for the newspeak we have come to know and love -- from the most PC unoffensive talk to the most vile "collateral damage," these destroyers of language have forgotten -- as did Oppenheimer -- that their actions are not personal, that their beaten butterfly wings do carry resonance around the world.

Or, as I saw in a post today:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will get me to brutalize my fellow man for the benefit of my rulers.


Kirby Olson said...

Simpler the language, the closer to the truth. The Gospel writers stuck with simple language, and simple clear stories.

Jesus didn't have a doctorate, or speak in jargon.

I think the attempt to make everything overly complex in the language poets and in many others just obscures the problem of it all being so far removed from life, and its real concerns.

Tomás Ó Conghaile said...

"Simpler the language, the closer to the truth. The Gospel writers stuck with simple language, and simple clear stories "

Nice in theory but i think no one will argue that the 'simple' words of the gospel have resulted in centuries of disagreement and war. it is wrong to think simplicity equals clarity.

LUCKY said...

There is a certain poetry that I have noticed that some people have. It is what makes them excellent writers or even better editors. Thomas Jefforson had this to some extent even though at times he became quite verbose but at the same time he had the ability to galvanize a nation with such phrases as, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" other founding father also produced amazing sound bits that have lasted the last two centuries. This grandour in language is missing from today's generation. I only have to look at my facebook page to see what my friends write on my wall to see the degradation of language. I'm not the best of writers and at times my language is in the same place as these others you are talking about but I wish I could be as eloquent as some are.

Thom and Barb said...

Conflicts and confusion not withstanding, I agree with Kirby. The gospel writers wrote to be clear, and to be understood, and I believe that they were very clearly understood by their contemporary audience. Multiple translations, lost originals, centuries of cultural shifts, and even some intentional distortion have interfered with the clarity of their original writings, but they wrote so as to be as clear as possible.
I would also add that I believe the same is true of the classical poets. Even those who seem most cryptic to us today did not intend to be so, in their day.
This urge to write poetry that must be analyzed and interpreted to be "appreciated" seems to be a fairly recent thing to me.

G. M. Palmer said...

Heck, I don't even think Pound was trying to write that sort of academic poetry back in the day. I think he was simply delusional -- that is, he thought there was a large, paying populace just as educated and as widely read as he was who would eat his work up.

I think he figured this out post-St. Elizabeth's but was too worn out to fix it. . .