Thursday, February 04, 2010

Love Words

Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

In the title of her second chapter, Love Words, Marilyn McEntyre employs a lovely paronomasia (or, pun but puns are are generally humorous) . Shortly into the chapter her double meaning is made evident:

"...So our task as stewards of the word begins and ends in love. Loving language means cherishing it for its beauty, precision, power to enhance understanding, power to name, power to heal. And it means using words as instruments of love."

The encouragment to love words and to love by words reminds me of ideas I considered this summer when I read a few excerpts of Plato's Phaedrus via The Art of Assertion:

( Phaedrus 261a) : "Such soul-leading is a liberal power, one which in its finest and fullest manifestation is a form of love: the finest rhetorician not only loves wisdom, but also loves others who do so. The finest rhetor, then, is a friend...The best university is a rhetorical community of friends, and the ultimate purpose of this book is to teach the reader how to live within such a community with words so full of care that they release the light of brilliance." p.13

-and- "The care of words and things--that is, the care of things through the care of words--is a generous, disciplined forum: this human activity is rhetorical throughout, the true influence of friends who have, as Phaedrus puts it at the close of the Phaedrus, 'everything in common' (279c), in particular the shared motion toward the real. pp 13,14

In Praise of Prepositions~
In celebrating particular parts of speech, McEntyre higlights the deep and amazing work of which prepositions are capable, connecting and showing relationship not only between words, but between the objects, persons, and ideas which they name. I have been considering and reflecting on the words from a hymn, taken from an ancient Celtic prayer, "St. Patrick's Breastplate".

Christ be with me, Christ within me.
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

"...prepositions help us, as Henry James put it, to 'understand things in relation,' which he claimed, is the only way they can be rightly understood." p.37

Love words.

1 comment:

Laura A said...

I like this idea in your book that caring for language fosters community. It's an encouraging thought that something so lovely to begin with also fosters a joyous result.