The Point of Words
- March 9, 2022
- Emilya Naymark
Although many living things communicate with each other (my dog certainly feels a burning need to let me know the mail has arrived the very moment it does), humans, at least on this planet, are the only ones who have language.
Words not only define things, but concepts; they solidify memories, or warp them. Propaganda to some is honest truth to others. And we can never have enough. If we’re not talking, talking, talking, we’re listening to others talk. If we’re not reading, we’re writing. We are all writers now, in this futuristic world we live in. First world, third world, cell phones are everywhere and 58% of the world’s population is writing, writing, writing something on some social media site or other.
Words and Groupthink
Sometimes I think we won’t need implants to become The Borg. We already are. Knowledge zips through our society with the speed of thought. Sometimes faster (not all of us are fast thinkers). And the words we use shape our attitudes and opinions, and there you go–Borg.
There Are no Absolutes
Why all this philosophy, you might ask? Well, I’m writing this in your past, on March 8th, which is International Women’s Day. Growing up in a communist country, I was used to celebrating it as a holiday. As far as holidays go, by comparison it outperformed Mother’s Day flower for flower. And yet, I’ve had a tetchy relationship to both holidays. On March 8th, men in Russia would find flowers somewhere and present them to the women in their lives. The women then had to go stand on lines to get provisions to make holiday dinners, which included standing on separate lines at the bakery, the pastry shop, the butcher, and any other mysterious lines that would form along a street and that might have anything from bananas to socks at the end. Then the women ran home, cooked the holiday dinners, put on pretty dresses and served the food, with the flowers as a centerpiece on the table.
Or at least these were the words my mother used to define International Women’s Day. In the United States, this day is a Google Doodle at best, and mostly because of its Socialist beginnings. Again, words with connotations–in this case, distasteful.
Writers Write – 3 Novels About Writers
But lest we forget that this is a blog by people who write, I thought I’d go even more meta and recommend some novels about people who write.
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
This has both a writer and a therapist at its cool, witty, incredibly well imagined center. I’m a fan.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
I’m just going to keep writing about this book over and over. Not only starring an author, but then taking that author and throwing her back and forth through time. All of this in clear, unsentimental, lovely prose.
Martin Eden by Jack London
Although written a hundred years ago, this is the best, by far, description of literary ambition and struggle I’ve ever read. Ever. Ever. It’s truly amazing how little has changed at the personal level of literary pursuit.
Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.
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