this connection between the universal and the parochial

In Landmarks, Robert Macfarlane has much to offer regarding the connectedness of place and language. Patrick Kavanagh’s insight that the local parish is our only access point to Aristotelian universals is profound (see last excerpt in this post). To share a frustration, Macfarlane’s claims often exaggerate the powers of language alone to tie our hearts […]

words so terrible you heard them with your whole body

And there was a voice above the firmament that was over their heads; when they stood, they let down their wings. She didn’t want to know what the verse meant, what the creatures were. She knew there were words so terrible you heard them with your whole body. Guilty. And there were voices to say […]

speech connects us so immediately and vitally because it is a physical, bodily process

Ursula K. Le Guin in “Telling Is Listening” found in The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination: The community created by printing and by secondary orality is not immediate; it is virtual. It can be enorrnous—the size of America. Indeed it may be literacy more than […]

worth taking a long time to say

Great passage on naming and language from The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien: “Who calls you hobbits, though? That does not sound elvish to me. Elves made all the old words: they began it.” “Nobody else calls us hobbits; we call ourselves that,” said Pippin. “Hoom, humm! Come now! Not so hasty! You call yourselves […]

bless each apple by kind

A Charm Against the Language of Politics by Veronica Patterson Say over and over the names of things, the clean nouns: weeping birch, bloodstone, tanager, Banshee damask rose. Read field guides, atlases, gravestones. At the store, bless each apple by kind: McIntosh, Winesap, Delicious, Jonathan. Enunciate the vegetables and herbs: okra, calendula. Go deeper into […]

across the face of the waters

From Norms and Nobility: a Treatise on Education by David Hicks (35): Righting this imbalance necessitates a classical understanding of the nature of language, which acknowledges its mystery and weds the word to the mind through the imagination, not exclusively to the external object through the senses. …A love of words and an understanding of […]

the world of words had a glamour and wonder

In reading The Classical Trivium by Marshal McLuhan, I’ve appreciate much about it, including his idea that the patterns of grammar are grounded in the patterns of the physical creation and that both the worlds of language and creation provide rich and myriad symbols pointing to “the creative Trinity” (36). See this passage for example […]

crystallization in an earthly element

In principle, all languages are sacred because their constituent element, speech, or the word, is but an attenuated form of Primordial Speech, the Divine Word, which is the direct source of the creative act, as is shown by the following two quotations from Scripture: ‘God said: Let there be light!’ (Gen. 1:3). As it is […]

unlock’d he the word-hoard

“Word-hoard” is a favorite kenning from Beowulf (and it appears in other Anglo-Saxon literature). In a single compact image, it suggests that we should amass a storehouse of language inside of us (closely related to Augustine’s understanding of memory as a wealthy city). Lines 258 to 260 from Beowulf translated by William Morris and Alfred John Wyatt: He then that […]