songofcopper: (pendigestatory interludicule ^_^)
I devoutly desire to defy description, and yet occasionally I pick up a word (in a bookshop corner or in that disreputable dive, the Thesaurus) that knows me at a glance. Such a one batted its lashes in my direction just the other afternoon.

And here it is:

That Word )


This morning, I unexpectedly got another interesting word (two, in fact) free gratis with my cup of coffee.

The non-boring way to talk about the weather )


One last semantic bagatelle. File this one under ‘Clearly I am an awful person’ episode no. 987.

She Rhymes With Dilemma )
songofcopper: (peter hammill)
A Glimpse of How My Mind Works

(Offered to all-comers, but especially [ profile] patrick_vecchio)

Earlier today, I was waiting for the bus when I caught sight of a sign board outside a betting shop. “Sprott to get yellow card in Nether Strumping Wanderers v. Oggen Fen United - odds of 33/1” it said. (Well, it didn’t say that exactly. I’m immune to the charm of sport in general and football in pertickler, so don’t rely on Me to remember either the name of the athlete in question or indeed the teams competing for glory.)

Anyway… it started me wondering how they work out the odds on something like that (or indeed any other wager - snow on Christmas, winner of Rear of the Year, exact date of world’s Trump-related spontaneous combustion, etc.).

It’s probably an algorithm, I told myself. Everything’s algorithms nowadays. This is without really knowing what an algorithm is or how it works - but it is a thing that apparently exists, and is observed to turn raw data into excuses for stuff (or perhaps I mean ‘reasons’… who knows). I must admit that I regard an algorithm with the same bemused, trusting expression with which 18th C. courtiers remarked the Mechanical Turk, whilst at the same time suspecting the existence of a secret compartment containing a conspiracy.

This should tell you that I am as about as well-informed as anyone else, i.e. Not Much.

Verbless Queries )

Popular media asks that we characterise ourselves and each other as Victims, Survivors, Heroes, Villains. If you’re not one, you must be another. Except, I and divers fellow delinquents are anomalous. We are in the precarious position of - oh dear me - Observers. This feels embarrassing (embarrasingly unnecessary) in Times Like These. If you’re not sitting on a sofa numbing yer inputs with Netflix, then you must be marching, surely. Because, because, if you’re not marching, you must be sitting on a sofa numbing yer inputs with Netflix.

Be Weird )

Hyperbole Overload

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 18:10
songofcopper: (Albrecht Dürer Forever)
Annoying discovery of the moment: the word ‘alchemy’ has become thoroughly meaningless. When you search for the word ‘alchemy’ all you get is a Vicipaedia article and about a hundred companies whose founders clearly have no imagination whatever. You can practically smell the thought process - “Uhhh, well, Clive, we could go with ‘synergy’ or we could go with ‘alchemy’… ‘alchemy’ is easier to spell, right? And it starts with an ‘a’. That’s, like, really positive, yeah?”

It is always a shame when words get bland. Think of the word ‘fantastic’. That really ought to indicate that the thing described has a beyondness, an aboveness, a quality of the dangerously imaginative. But these days, it’s ‘fantastic’ when you can successfully book a table at a restaurant, it’s ‘fantastic’ when someone hands you something over a shop counter, it’s ‘fantastic’ when something goes right in the most mundane way imaginable. ‘Fantastic’ - seriously?

Then there’s ‘incredible’. That word was originally intended to convey that an event or thing is beyond comprehension, that it’s unbelievable in the literal sense (which I have to qualify, because - inevitably - ‘unbelievable’ itself often gets handed out in response to things that are… hilariously believable).

And of course, we regularly tell each other that something is ‘amazing’ when it has not actually amazed us in the slightest, or that something is ‘marvellous’ when it is in fact no kind of marvel. Worse - we bandy the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ and ‘starving’ and ‘torture’ when we really mean ‘it’s ok I guess’ or ‘it’s not up to much’ or ‘I’m looking forward to lunch’ or ‘that stings a bit’.

Maybe words are like drugs. The more you overuse them, the less effective they become? It feels like we need a massive shot of hyperbole these days even to move an eyelash. You can see this on any talent show where the participants have broken through the barrier of basic mathematics in order to offer A MILLION PERCENT. Careful, now. You might find yourself having to pay that back one of these days. You’ve just signed away your soul. The Devil himself (manifesting in the shape of Simon Cowell) is chuckling at you.

I searched for ‘alchemy’ expecting to have to wade through a bunch of credulous new age flannel, not… recruitment agencies and IT systems security firms. And restaurants. (Restaurants! “Would you like sulphur with that, sir, or may I suggest a little antimony on the side?”) And cosmetics firms, and media companies, and local community projects, and jewellery designers, and - lord save us - dentists. (Well, I guess the dentist kinda makes sense… if they still do mercury fillings?!)

Alchemy should be a powerful word, not a catch-all for some slick transaction resulting in ‘hey presto’. It should - it must - speak for those transformative moments in which one thing becomes another. It should be a word that reminds us that nothing is ever lost or gained… it only changes.

In All Things, I Know Myself To Be Mercury, Not Granite. That is something I need to remember, ponder, analyse and… accept.


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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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