Between the Lines

Of late, I keep coming up against the language divide. On the one hand, we have the language hippies. They’re cool with any kind of expression – grammatical or not. They tend to shrug off any suggestion that there are things it is wrong to say or write. Down with Skool!

But the idea that something “means” whatever most speakers think it means, is a slippery slope. Most people don’t know the difference between unexceptional and unexceptionable, or unconscious, unconscientious, and unconscionable. So maybe we don’t really need these words. But you’re/your, I/me/mine, accept/except? Do we really want our expressive abilities to erode to a selection of emoticons?

On the other hand, we have the grammar gorillas. If they were politely improving other people’s speech or writing, they might even be useful. But not only do they tear a strip off anyone making a mistake, they are surprisingly often WRONG. Ironically, their crusades are often (mis-)guided by a lack of knowledge and feeling for language, and worse, they are completely impervious to evidence.

Give a grammar gorilla a link to the Cambridge Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, or the OED, and they will fanatically persist in their errors as, obviously, the editors of said volumes cannot be trusted. They object to sentences ending in prepositions, or beginning with conjunctions. And if they think “liberal” means generous, anyone who uses the word in politics leaves them frothing at the mouth.

So where does that leave us, the middle-of-the-roaders?

Now, I confess I have a secret failing. I sometimes politely point out to people on the internet that they’re wrong. Only when people want to learn. Or when they’re being really, really nasty. I keep thinking, when they realise they are wrong themselves, this will make them a bit kinder to the people they go around “correcting”. Foolish of me, I know. People who ridicule others for making mistakes do this because they can’t accept their own. And the more vicious their attack, the deeper the fall if they admit they were mistaken or misguided. Oops.

So I should stop, right? And join the silent majority that allows obnoxious troubled individuals to jeer mercilessly at others. Or maybe I’ll go on patiently pointing out the gorillas’ own errors. Because letting their vicious intolerance go unchallenged, makes the gorillas believe they speak for us all.

I don’t know. What do you do?

Tale Untold

K 2009. Study in coloured pencil.

Isaac wasn’t a happy child. Nor was he unhappy. He spent his time reading or lying in the grass looking up at the sky and the trees. He didn’t show much interest in playing with other boys and hated it when his grandmother invited them to play.

He had no patience with those whose mind wasn’t as quick as his own. Apple sauce for brains, he called it. One day, one of his unfortunate visitors lay under the apple tree laden with ripe fruit.

As the apple fell, Isaac crowed: like calls to like!

The idea of gravity was born.

* * *

The 100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups at Julia’s place: …as the apple fell… With apologies to Isaac Newton.

Lucky Charm

It would be alright. He’d done this a hundred times before. Today he was guiding a group of geologists searching for an underground river in the caves beneath the Jokakichua mountain, or Dragon’s Head, named for its distinctive shape and it’s sudden “flames” of fog.

He knew the greenish algae-produced light helped adjust your senses to the surroundings; it felt eerie nonetheless. Irrelevantly, he wished he hadn’t lost his lucky charm.

Suddenly he stopped, senses on red alert. It was quiet, too quiet. Where was everybody? He heard a deep rasping breath, and felt a hot draft on his neck.

T.Mastgrave’s story challenge: Unnatural silence.

Quick Colours

K ’03. 15 min sketch done from photo on sketch paper.
I see the flaws, and I like it.

I recently came across a lovely art-blog by watercolour artist / teacher Jana Bouc with beautiful ink-and-watercolours, especially her wildflowers.

It reminded me of an art group I went to years ago. I wanted to improve my drawing skills, and spent hours (or so it seemed) labouring over pencil drawings. I know you need to practice, but it gets fairly tedious, so I used to finish up with a quick ink-and-watercolour study, just for fun.

The pencil drawings weren’t that bad. Yet somehow, I was always happier with the spontaneous watercolour sketches than with the drawings that cost me so much effort. I wonder why. Was it just that I prefer colours over line drawings? Or because in my mind one represented work, the other play? Or did the my impatience with one and joy in the other somehow seep into the drawings?

Not so bad, I guess.
You can see I was totally lost, trying to do the reflections here.

Abstraction

Bertie is feeling a little abstract today.

To abstract is to draw out
the essence of a matter.
To abstract in art
is to separate certain fundamentals
from irrelevant material
which surrounds them.

Ben Shahn

I’m sometimes a little annoyed about the confusion between abstract art (based on real objects, simplifying, reducing and changing them) and non-representational art (not based on objects). Logically, you cannot abstract (lit.: take away), if you don’t start with something to abstract from.

Now, Bertie here is doubly abstract and proud of it: he’s an abstraction of dogginess in the first place, and now he’s been reduced to monochrome triangles. After pondering the matter from various angles, he seems quite happy, and has settled down for a little nap.

Share Your World

Bertie in vectors.

1.  What type of pets do you have or want?
I’d love to have a dog. As a surrogate I enjoy reading dogblogs, like those written by Bongo or Patch. And of course I have Bertie!

2. Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?
Take them, any time. I hate being photographed.

3. What household chore do you absolutely hate doing?
Opening and filing correspondence. I’d rather wash windows!

4. What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?
Buses on long trips. Is this a legacy from schooldays?

Cee Neuner’s Share your world initiative. Links to other blogger’s answers here.

Hangdog

I don’t usually read the papers, but this morning was special: there just might be a small piece about my paintings in the local section. Not that I really care. No fame and glory for me: I know I’m not exactly Picasso. But all my friends would read it!

Then I found it: pure poison. Oozing condescension. I couldn’t believe it! That supercilious little jerk. Angrily I tore the offending paper to shreds. Take that you bastard! And that!

When James came down and wanted his paper, there was only confetti on the floor. I blamed it on the dog.

Bertie back again. Is he feeling guilty about skiving off for so long?

My contribution to this week’s 100wcgu: …I blamed it on the dog…