One of my favorite quotes about quotes is this: “The most important thing I learned at UC Berkeley was that I will never use the word ‘reality’ again without using quotes around it.”
I am so “guilty” about using these kinds of quotes in my prose. In fact, I am “guilty” for using myriad signals for the “voice” of my Voice. I have been warned that I use way too many parentheticals, qualifiers, and subordinate clauses. I employ a strange use capitals, etc…and way too many ellipses… Okay, am I a lazy grammarian? Perhaps…surely, I have never claimed “grammarian” on my resume. I’m just not sure today’s rules of grammar and punctuation are quite right for much of my written work, that’s all. Augh! Sacrilege! Indeed. Better know the rules before you go around breaking them, my dear. Indeed. I know how to use Strunk and White, don’t worry. But I’m talking about the readers’ “hearing” the same notes as the notes in my head…maybe seeing the right images? I may be in the “wrong” medium? Oh oh oh, the word, “wrong?” now that’s a screamer for definition…talk about subjective morality? I’m all for accurate spelling and the little red and blue lines that appear on our screens– but Okay, let’s do a little language dance shall we? Make it up as we go?
The use of “unpack” these days: Funny line in the play “White” by James Ijames. “oh come on, I’ve had it with the word, ‘unpack,’ haven’t these people ‘moved in’ already?” (I laughed aloud).
I often avoid these trendy words and phrases, being someone who doesn’t easily fall…and finding myself a bit righteous about that quality, but I also want to check myself on righteousness…beware of the blind spots of righteousness… (another word that is crying for definition) You know, it’s possible that I might spend much of my blog just trying to define terms…could be a “niche” market? And then there’s the use of quotes around words in general…okay, I’m not talking about actual quotes, “real” references that are critical among the critical… I’m talking about all the air quotes that splatter my texts and fill the air around me when I’m talking to folks, both casually and formally. (I use air quotes all day long when I’m teaching, maybe because I’m always trying to remind the students how little I “really know” and that they should beware of those who never use air quotes, because they are so full of certitude. Beware certitude. No quotes.)
So, let’s “unpack” some of those tightly packed words on the title of my website. Today’s word is “spirit.”
Ghost, energy, god (very important – small ‘g’), essence, booze?
Hmm… see the connections? Can you share your thoughts on this? No pressure. (let’s define that one, shall we?)
Can you share your thoughts on the use of quotes? Do they annoy or delight you? What about ellipses? Okay, so I am heavily influenced by Modernist Women Writers (oh, oh, oh, how they raged against the male construction of sentences, the certitudes of grammar…and how I wept with gratitude for some of their work)
What is language if not a weapon for the Oppressor? I call for language to be a weapon of liberation. Shall we “weaponize” a few more words here? Shall we “unpack” that word, “weaponize?” Shall we stick to defining our terms?…whee…down the rabbit hole. You coming along?