Words are not sticks and stones, but we use words to get people to throw sticks and stones. Words are like magic—that's why magic spells are such a part of magic's trope. And words, in order to work, in order to work their magic, have to mean something.
Words are slippery. Words are malleable. They are not the rocks beneath our collective understanding we want them to be, because they shift in their meaning, subject to our changing wants and our collective will (or lack of will). But we still use them, because we don't seem to have any better tool at hand to work that magic, to reshape our world to meet our desires.
We lie with words, and we tell the truth with words. What makes those words into truth or untruth is not the words themselves, but how well those words match up to the things they describe. And we have gotten way too lazy about making that connection.
And so this blog. Each entry I will pick a word and try to get at what we mean, and sometimes what we ought to mean, when we invoke it. Some of the words are at the forefront of political speech (jobs, freedom, government), others are parts of my particular life (Quaker, map, folk). And still others I expect to pick up just because they pique my interest.
Friday, September 2, 2011
New blog: Measured Words
I've started a new blog, Measured Words, which I describe below. I'm not abandoning this one, but wanted to do this to impose a structure on an idea that's been floating around in my mind for a while. I hope you'll join me over there.