Big words

May 6th, 2013  |  Published in Ideas

Last weekend we lamented the loss of words.
How they were stolen and multiplied and proliferated until they lost their meaning
and power
by those who didn’t understand what they meant
but did
perceive that they had meaning
and power.

I lament these words
stretched beyond their elasticity now floppy and loose
because it feels so hard to find meaning in the first place:
Like the arguments I had as a kid, in defense of big words
,that I can only win in retrospect,
where I would have said,
“the point isn’t to bludgeon you with their size*”
* though I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t that, a little
,”but that it’s amazing to find that one word,
that captures, that encompasses, that makes true
all the contradictions and nuance and confusion of an idea or an experience.”

That lets you escape the feeling that it hasn’t happened until you can name it.
Which I think was what I needed more than profanity*
* the words that didn’t need defended around that time.

And the lost words were like that,
powerful
essential to trying to understand something, to figure it out
but fuzzy. Foundational
even though we couldn’t quite pin down what they meant.
They could be two things at once, in two places at once.
Uncertain
but always aware of their presence.
And now their absence.