Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Words Worth

Sometimes when I write a blog, I find myself wishing that I would have said something after it posts. Most of those times the missing words are adjectives. They are the kind of things that can make a good idea better, and a better idea great. I have a few of those better ideas, and every so often a great one comes out. Even without that missing part of speech. It is what happens when you use words as a vocation, or avocation in my situation. Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.
This is why I notice when other people with my situation, vocation or avocation come up empty. Recently, it was that was Brian Williams. Words failed him. Telling that story with just a few more words, or leaving a few out, and he's still sitting behind the NBC anchor desk. Imagine with me, if you will, a world in which Richard Nixon had never said, "I am not a crook." The problem is that he did. In front of television cameras. Newspapers. People with memories. They remembered those words, and when it came time to decide if, in fact, Richard Nixon was a crook, he already was. In his own words. Give or take.
What are words for? That's the musical question. The answer, more often than not, is simple: communication. Communicating what? That's not so simple. When Rudy Guliani starts a sentence with "I know this is a horrible thing to say," we don't all cover our ears. We lean in. We want to know more. We want to hear horrible. We want to read horrible. Horrible? It's an adjective. The former mayor of New York and hero of September 11, 2001 wants to tell me something horrible? I'm not covering my ears. I want to hear more. "I don't believe that the President loves America." That's enough words to dig a big hole with some people, right? But he added more: "He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country." He was right. It was horrible. Those were some pretty horrible words. 
By the end of the week, Rudy Guliani, Mayor of 9/11, had a whole bunch more words, not the least of which were, "it was a joke." He wanted to explain. He used a whole bunch more words to explain how the words he used. He only needed one: horrible. An adjective. And he should have left it out.

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