Words Matter

Before you spend any more of your valuable time reading, I thought I should let you know what you’re in for. Should you commit yourself? Should I be committed? Only you, Dear Reader,

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Reader: Who are you?

F. C.: I have a life that I was about to call normal, but then I remembered that many people consider that word insulting, even oppressive. Perhaps I’ll go with not-at-all-extraordinary.

I have a job that makes me middle-class. I live in a house that the bank owns for the next twenty years. It is located in a rural area with easy access to a major city. Dogs and cats share my house.

 

 

Abigail Adams Meyers

 

Katze

 

 

I own an automobile. I probably don’t clean it, or my house, as often as I should. I eat meat, but I love a good vegetarian lasagne. I drink beer and I drink wine. See? Nothing special.

Reader: So why are you writing this?

F. C.: Well, I am somewhat different. I have way more hobbies than I have time for if I want to keep my job and get some sleep. And, as anybody with hobbies knows, they make you look at things in ways you would never imagine if you didn’t do them. It makes you understand nuances of things far beyond the surface level. For example, have you ever used a pen because it had a nifty way to fill itself with ink?

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Have you ever worn a watch because a famous Cosmonaut wore the same model in orbit?

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I’ve done both.

All this means I think about things in ways that make people roll their eyes and pat me on the head. I just want to share my thoughts about some of the things I think about. My job involves public speaking, and I would not have kept it if I could not make audiences care about what I was saying at least a little bit. So I thought I would try public writing.

Reader: That sounds reasonable. But why “Curmudgeon?” Isn’t that a nasty, grouchy person?

F. C.: Ah, that’s the key. Some things do make me grouchy, and that usually happens when I get the impression that people are not thinking. Sometimes they do or say something just because everyone else does. Sometimes they don’t value a thing because they have not stopped to consider how beautiful it is. Sometimes they assume that change is always good and progress is always positive. Sometimes I just play Devil’s advocate to move people out of their comfort zones and see if they have reasons for what they say or do.

My best friend at work refers to us as the Curmudgeons’ Club. Once, after a typically hard day, he asked me, “Want to hear today’s absurdity?” At that moment, the idea for this series crystallized.

Reader: Sounds interesting. Can you give me an example?

F. C.: Sure. Words matter, and I refuse to use a word just because it has become commonplace. Words feel certain ways when spoken.

 

This is why I hate the word “blog.” Its unabbreviated version, web log, makes sense. You keep a log of your thoughts on the Web. In my mind, the stress falls on “web.” It’s what makes this log different from all other logs. But “blog” is one of the ugliest contractions ever contracted. It sounds like a trudging, heavy, wearying journey. It feels dark, cold, rainy, muddy, and dirty, just like the Anglo-Saxon world conjured up by a good translation of Beowulf. 

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It is a name for a task that you have to do, and dread, rather than one you want to do, and enjoy. One man’s “blogger” is another man’s “on-line essayist.” The world may insist on calling me the former, but I’ll always think of myself as the latter.

Reader: Damn, dude.

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