Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I Use a Word

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
Through the Looking Glass.

I had an experience yesterday that taught me that even if I choose words with immense care it doesn't matter to the reader.  The words mean only what they mean to the reader, not what they mean to me.

What are the implications of this?  I think, as of this morning, it means that words have ceased having the precise meaning they once had.  Words have become some kind of signpost pointing the way to the reader's personal experience, not necessarily anything the writer is trying to convey.

It's funny/odd/coincidental to now be saying this after Bad Apple has been completed because there's a scene (which I know the meaning of but now I suppose no one else will) in which one character says based on his choice of words "You're not listening to me".  

Instead of the reader identifying with the characters, they now personalize the story.  It's not about the story/written word/book, it's about how the reader identifies with their own experiences. 

This is not good.

Gluyas Williams

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