Every word is part of a spell you are weaving around yourself and around others, it changes how you are seen and how you see others. You can hang up words on people, and they can become permanent fixtures which you’ll never quite shake — even when the tide of reality surges up against your perceptions to say: these labels aren’t right.
With that in mind, here is a scribble by Elizabeth Bishop on words to avoid:
I love the working out on this — and if what I remember from my exams holds true — she got extra marks for showing them.
In the document there are a list of words which can be broken down in to three categories.
One: those which are un-romantically scientific sounding — words which carry their own dry weight with them: “aspect” “basic” “specifics” and “selectivity” or indeed “- most ivity words”
Two: common phrase which alludes to something being innately known or within the world of the known without specifics: “kind of, sort of” & “gut reaction, gut feeling, gut anything except the word gut alone or cat gut, etc”
Three: words dressed up slightly used to distance us from the true experiential concepts, taxonomical terms which have crept into everyday life and are most often to again, allude to a grander concept which cannot be initially transferred: “life-experience” “relate” “relationship” “meaningful” “commitment” “negation” “life-style”
I heartily agree and probably use all of these word more than I ought to. Much like the addition of “basis” to any term of time: “daily basis” rather than “daily” they all attempt to move us away from our real meaning, and provide some kind of neutrality of language which is (honestly) neither helpful, or desirable.
Last year I worked on a translation project, where I dug up loads of my old poems, and translated them all into a single form. The rules were to:
One: use one strict verse — I chose that of Icelandic occasional verse, which is 8 lines of 6-syllables, and should contain some form of “kenning” — which is like a metaphor where you describe something by opposition, or what it isn’t.
Two: to somehow contain all of the previous poem’s meaning. This meant, especially for the longer poems, a great deal of chopping and condensing. I didn’t often use a line from the old poems, which in one way was saddening, and others quite exciting as they could be seen as some kind of key that leads through each poem to it’s predecessor.
I didn’t always meet these rules, but it was a good excercise. Here’s a not completely terrible one:
Home shrunk to engine-room,
My breath as mist inside.
She heats what she can heat,
I do what I can do.
Never meant to go cold
but slow tragedy leaks.
A family run a-ground
must build with what it has.
Lou Reed wrote poems, here’s one of the better ones:
Please take a moment to explore a database of powerful runes.
And, once you’re done there, consider the future of the book as: the webbook. To be completely honest, we’ve been trying to talk about this for a long time, but we’ve never fully come to terms with the fact that the future of books doesn’t look very book like.
I smashed my phone (and myself) up at the weekend while running. Don’t worry, I wasn’t run over exactly. So if you’d like to sponsor this very newsletter in the form of buying me an iphone that would be great.
Today’s song (well, mix, actually):
Thanks for reading this week’s Etch To Their Own, we made it to Friday, and then we made it here. Hold on for dear life to the weekend. Etch To Their Own was mashed out with broken paws by @CJEggett, and proofread by no one. I got some really nice replies to the last week’s issue, so you should feel free to get in touch by replying to this email — even if it’s just to point out a typo! In other news, I got snapchat and don’t know how to use it. Please feel free to add me: cjeggett.