Hello, Reader, and happy Friday. It seems I will never learn. Last week, Friday passed by me in a blur. This week, I hadn’t planned on spending many hours devoted to transporting a 4×100 relay team to the county meet (and then staying to watch; mind you, relays are always last). I hadn’t planned on devoting many hours to care and treatment of a bee sting on a child’s foot. Many. Hours.
I need a sign above my desk: This week you will spend many hours doing things you hadn’t planned on. Plan on it. Luckily, notebooks and poetry collections are portable and they go with me everywhere. I did what I could, with what I had, where I was. It was less than I had planned on, but that’s life.
Also, for the record, I had not planned on the rest of the Thursdays and Fridays of the school year being half-days. ENORMOUS SIGH. Onward.
linguistic citizenship I read a really interesting article in the New Yorker this week about language as it relates (or doesn’t) to world view. It’s kind of an extended review of the newly published Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, and an essay on whether language creates worldview (Whorfianism) or not (as John McWhorter argues). Adam Gopnik, who wrote the article, lands here:
“Although the differences between languages are minute, and can’t be elevated to either a prison house or a world view, it is in language’s minutiae that the small gestures of art live.”
As a poet, I like that idea, of course (and I also like that phrase: “the small gestures of art”). Here’s the whole article if you’re interested.
misperceptions Another thing I finally read this week is an article about mis-readings by Sarah J. Sloat at Passages North. It begins with Sloat relating a story of opening her medicine cabinet and seeing some Apocalypse Oil (rather than appliance oil). She points out:
“Positive or negative, there is something refreshingly jarring about the unexpected. Good writers do it by thwarting reader expectations. But in the case of misreadings, not the writer but the reader delivers the surprise. The reader’s mind switches out the details. It lapses. It sees what it wants to see. Not only does it overlook, it compensates and embellishes. The misled mind is creative. It doesn’t take words at face value but gets involved, creating a personal subtext.”
Sloat keeps a notebook of her mis-readings — probably something all of us writerly types should do (My most recent mis-reading is thus: “Are you arthritis?” instead of “Are you an artist?” Pass the artist.).
To quote Sloat’s quote of Georg Christoph Licthenberg, “Every surprise changes the world.” Read the whole article here if you’re interested.
and speaking of which here are a couple of my favorite poems based on misperceptions:
One from Sandy Longhorn and her Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths: “‘Touch Me’ Misread as ‘Torch Me'” (scroll down for the poem — it’s amidst a review).
And another from Kelli Russell Agodon (this one based upon mishearing rather than misreading): “How Killer Blue Irises Spread.”
Keep a lawn chair and a hat in the back of your car, keep your shoes on (for Heaven’s sake!!!!) and plan for the unplanned. This is all I know for sure this week. Enjoy the long weekend.