Tuesday, August 25, 2009

some Mondayor other

One of my friends said “no wonder you aren’t sleeping and are having such an awkward time socialising. Reading intense, depressing prose makes for great conversation, I bet.”

Actually it does, oddly enough, though a little one-sided at times. It also reminds me of a lot of dusty vocabulary I usually keep in a shed outside of Chesapeake City, Maryland, so as not to frighten people.

The word “diaphanous” came up, entirely validly, in conversation with the Spouse. He looked at me suspiciously.

“Diaphanous?”

“It means transparent, more or less”

“Why not just use transparent?”

Collocational differences? It’s a good term actually, collocational differences. It means “having different placement” but is usually used more broadly as “words which, while they may not be different in definition, differ in the possible combinations or placement.”

e.g. big = large; but “you are making a big mistake” not “you are making a large mistake”

similarly, “transparent accounting” not “diaphanous accounting”

Words are inexpensive to collect, and one doesn’t have to worry much about storage. Still, explosions are possible; one of my professors in college had worked on the Dutch version of the OED and had clearly suffered some damage.

My current, less lofty reading is a little less pleasurable than it might have been had it not been for Nabokov’s torture (as read by Jeremy Irons – such painful brilliance).

Ira is Latin for fury, and his last name I forget, but the last man to attempt to curb my occasionally baroque style ended up reminding me of a poet* I discovered about the same time –

“I remember the last

of the men I called sir, the last

time I feared poetry -

no hard shove out of Heaven

but a scrawl in green ink, Your analysis

is not brilliant, but will serve

if you avoid these leaps of imagination,

and I tripped away, a mark on my

head full of rhyme.”

I try, but am occasionally sorry to succeed.

*Tanis MacDonald, “To My Milton Professor”

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