20 sept. 2006

You could multiply the dictionary by a thousand and still not have enough words to describe what most people think and feel in a single day.

Surely the problem of expression has almost nothing to do with the quantity of words in the dictionary! We have more than enough words in quantitative terms. Mauve. Dilapidation. Nugatory. Remediation. Perfunctory. Hostile. Ennervation. Empresario. Cashmere. Incomplete. Company. I. Bitter. Button. Stint. Marooned. Carburetor. Otherwise. Chingada. Dust. Insular. Up. Derivation. Boundary. Miniature. Box. I could go on and on. Each word is universe of meaning unto itself. Even a *small* vocabulary of 10,000 words is susceptible to a number of combination that I am too lazy to calculate right now, but it's a big, big number.

Even knowing a whole 'nother language doesn't allow you to express more than you can in your first language. Learning new words, after a certain point, doesn't allow for more expression. It just multiplies the number of choices; like giving a bored child more toys it does not address the real problem; and in fact aggravates the problem. Boredom is not a function of the lack of toys. Would Creeley's poetry express more if it moved beyond his rather limited repertory of insistent echoes? What is Basho's lexicon, in quantitative terms?

Multiplying language quantitatively is a poor solution, unworthy of a brilliant theorist and Language Poet such as Mr Piombino. You can do much better than that!

5 comentarios:

Nick Piombino dijo...

But all the words in all the dictionaries in the world couldn't begin to explain to me why you would take my words so literally! Yet the aphorist is eagerly grateful for your attention and detailed response which will only induce me to try harder to please!

Jonathan dijo...

You've got to forgive me for using your aphorism to make my own point! I thought it would be fun to riff off of your hyperbole.

Nick Piombino dijo...

Still, "Mauve" to "Box" is a little poem I like; a kind of photopoem, it seems to me, created by making a print from a "negative" of my aphorism.

Ray Davis dijo...

"An aphorism is a scenic rest stop between an unsupported argument and an undesired consequence."

Jonathan dijo...

Very good, Ray.