Words are magical things. They are soothing, inviting, seductive, infuriating, insulting, and more. They can wound or heal; entice or repel; confuse or clarify; amuse or sadden. I love words. I do not obsess over them but I enjoy them. I like learning new words but I try to avoid using them to impress. Some others do not, they think it makes them appear sophisticated and educated. In other words, appear to be something they fear they aren't.
But words do not stand alone. Someone must speak or write them to bring their power to bear. They must be joined in such a way as to make them memorable or, I feel, they are wasted. And they must be used with the listener/reader in mind. Talking over someone's head will not endear you to that person. Not to mention that words, uttered at the wrong time or in he wrong place, can get you into trouble.
Oral communication is only partly dependent upon words, the majority of context is in body language, gesture, facial expression, and voice (tone and emphasis). These non-verbal communication factors are not available in the printed word. That makes communication very difficult for people who write for a living, or even for pleasure (as we bloggers do). Yet, throughout the ages the written word has sustained and advanced civilization. We study the writings of ancient civilizations intently; we immortalize the utterings of great men; we revere books and plays written hundreds of years ago. All of this without the physical manifestations needed in face to face communications. I think we are able to do this because these writings transcend that need. These men (and women) are wordsmiths.
Shakespeare is, to me, the greatest of wordsmiths. He transcends the ages with his wit and perception of the human condition. Aristotle and Plato are the great teachers, while Aesop the best in the art of expressing common sense and moral virtue. But there are so many worthy rivals to these that it would be impossible to be fair and list them all. I have no favorite style, genre, or discipline in writers. I have found joy in a vast array of works from the past and present.
One of the questions in the profile we make up as we create our blogs, is "Favorite books". I listed no one book, just various genres. That's because I am fickle; the book I am reading at the moment is likely to be my favorite, whatever it is. I rarely reread a book. When I do, the book is undoubtedly special. At least for me. It is usually one in which I strongly identify with a main character. Perhaps that's why the question is important to a profile; it reveals something important about the person.
Though I cannot list it as my favorite, I want to recommend a book that I have read more than once. It has been many years since I read it and my memories of it are vague. It was introduced to me by a man I met while in the Navy. This man, no more than 6 months older than I, mentored me. In his struggles with authority and the burden of his great intelligence, Herb Jahnke reached out to me as a friend and taught me much about how to view the world around me. He gave me this book not long after we met and we discussed it more than a few times in the year that we were shipmates.
It came back to me because of a blog post I read this morning, a blog post that triggered many thoughts as the blogger often does for me. The blog site is
"THE VIEW FROM OUTSIDE MY TINY WINDOW" and the post Number 66b
The book Herb gave me is "The Painted Bird" by Jerzy Kosiński. It's a story about a young boy lost and alone in Poland and Eastern Europe while World War II ravages the countryside.
A Night Unremembered
2 years ago