So many books. So little time.
For one brief moment pay attention to the world around you. No matter where you are—the sea coast, the street corner, or your office cubicle. Beauty abounds. The creativity in the cubicle, the regulation of the road, the wildness of the waves approaching and retreating, then approaching again. And you think of it, and seek words to describe the scene, even if only to yourself.
Seek words. Seek words. We are word–creating, word–consuming creatures of this earth. No other creature (that we know of. Maybe they do, and think similarly of us) has this ability to communicate to another human through the facility of words.
There is a story of two men deep in conversation.
"Ugh," said one.
"Ugh, ugh," replied the other.
"Don’t change the topic."
Funny, but illuminating of what our world would be if we lacked language, and the words that make up the language. A bystander would have no idea what this conversation is about.
In the ultimate analysis words are tools with a very specific purpose—to communicate. To be effective tools they have to have a commonly agreed–on meaning, and each language has its vocabulary and its lexicon. All English speaking people, for example, would understand the word chat. So would all French speaking people. Except, in French, the word chat means cat. Picture this short sentence: Chat, chat.
Words create pictures too.
And therein lies their richness. Like a multi-faceted diamond a word glows with many meanings:
Librarians are wary of bookkeepers.
She wrote a book on anti-gravity. It flew off the shelves.
Oh the fun you can have woth words. And then they have a weightier function as repositories of thoughts, of knowledge that travels across time. Carl Sagan said of books, “What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.”
Change it a bit and you have described a word: ‘what an astonishing thing a word is. Funny dark squiggles, strange sounds that create pictures, but they allow you inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.”
That is the power of words.