has a habit of making proclamations on his radio program. Some of these proclamations hold water rather well, others leak like a sieve. One particular favorite of mine is his statement: words mean things
That statement in and of itself stands as a paragon of the obvious, but is it really? In our age of verbal ambiguity and bare literacy, the value of words has fallen faster than the Deutschmark in April, 1945. Words should be surgical instruments, carefully chosen to accomplish a specified task. They can hammer or bludgeon, then in a moment caress and pacify. That is the nature of language, both written and verbal, to try to capture that perfect nuance and share it with another human being.
On one level we are all isolated, every one of us. Our thoughts and experiences are just that, ours alone. Communication seeks to break down that isolation and create a meeting of the spirit with another. The words we use are the subtle devices of destruction, tearing away at the solitary confinement in which we all live and breathe. The task is complicated by the fact that many words possess multiple meanings as well as our own personal interpretation of the definition of each word. An example might be the word heart. In the simple statement "He had a lot of heart." we may have differing thoughts. You may feel it meant the subject never gave up, while to me heart may mean he had sensitivity, courage, resourcefulness, etc. It is the same word in the same sentence but it bears a different weight to each who reads or hears it.
That said, words are tremendous vehicles for sharing information, experience, and emotion. Apart from actually sharing an experience with someone else, words are all we have to convey what we have experienced to others.
My love affair with words began long before I could begin to read. I remember as a young child going through my brother's textbooks. I couldn't read the words, but I could enjoy the illustrations. My home was bare of books, both parents having minimal education thence little use for literature. My siblings carried their books home not because they wanted to but because they must do so to do their homework. That gave me a chance to check them out. I remember the section of a world history textbook about the Middle Ages replete with pictures of knights, castles, and cathedrals. I was enthralled and within me was born a burning desire to learn to read.
When I was 6 or 7, I bought my first book. It was a Little Golden Book, entitled The Little Red Fox. Actually, it was more suited to a mother reading to her very young child, but it was mine, all mine. It cost 25 cents, a quarter well invested. That was the first purchase of hundreds to follow.
I finally learned to read, and read I did. I'd lie in bed on Saturday night and read until the dawn lightened the horizon. I rode the Black Stallion with Walter Farley, went to the stars with Robert A. Heinlein, went to the depths with Jules Verne. I wintered and summered alike with Andre Norton in her Witch World. I often had 4 or 5 books going simultaneously, alternating one to another. Reading was my favorite recreation.
About the 8th grade a friend introduced me to the Science Fiction Book Club. If anyone else was a member circa 1967, you'll remember the editions were not luxurious at all, being printed on cheap paper and bearing nondescript covers. They were glorious rags of literature, transporting me to Barsoom and beyond. I rode the wave of the new Golden Age of SF right along with Harlan Ellison, James Tiptree, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, et al.
Upon graduating high school, things got pretty busy. I didn't have the luxury of lavishing time on reading as I once had, but still continued to dally when I could. Books have always been more than ink on pages, words without warmth. Books have been friends, ones I could always turn to for information, entertainment, and solace.
I didn't attend college but instead went to work. After a few years I enrolled in the local Community College (mainly because some ex-GI friends also enrolled to burn some of that GI bill money). One class was a Lit class where we actually did a fair amount of writing. I was encouraged by the teacher who told me my efforts reminded her of Earl Hamner's writing. I tucked away that encouragement but didn't continue to write.
Fast forward about 30 years. It was Monday, December 18, 2006 when while browsing along the Internet, I stumbled upon a website called E2. I'd never heard of E2 but it sounded sort of interesting, so I took the plunge. I read some of what others had posted and sought to respond to one write up that had touched a chord within me. That was my introduction to Klaproth. Oh yeah, I got the good old WWF smackdown, and it royally ticked me off. Just who the hell was this Klaproth anyway and what right did he have to devour my efforts and consign them to Hades? When I get a fair head of steam built up I can be devastatingly PO'ed, and I'm not referring to a purchase order. I almost scrubbed E2 from my favorites list due to wounded pride. I suspect many have done just exactly that since E2's inception. For whatever reason, I didn't scrap E2 and I'm very glad I didn't.
E2 has provided an outlet for me to write things I've only thought of for these many years. I do informationals on a lot of people who were known decades ago but who are now almost forgotten. I find it almost offensive that their memory is fading and have set it as a goal to acquaint others with them where possible. I write about my occupation as a trucker, a mixture of fact, opinion, and fiction.
I've encountered some extremely nice and helpful people on E2, who have taken their time to critique, enlighten, advise, and sometimes rip me a new nether oriface. I've appreciated their support and simply enjoyed the interchange with others who share the same motivations as myself.
As the old saying goes A lot of water has gone under the bridge. Words, writing, and literature have always been a part of my life in one form or fashion. My life has certainly been enriched from that relationship. I tell my children that there is no difference between someone who can't read and someone who won't read. It concerns me that young people are entranced with hollow technologies such as the cell phone, video games, and iPod. Yes, they are entertaining, but what did you learn from the time you invested? My advice to anyone is this: take time to read, anything will do. You can read a phone book and still glean useful bits of information. Read widely and often, expand your mind, nourish your soul.
I'm willing to make a wager, cut a deal. I challenge anyone to read, invest a year in the project. If, at the end of that year, you haven't gotten far more from the exercise than you've given, feel free to down vote my write ups for all eternity.