Sunday, January 11, 2009


Photobucket I have been reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand in an effort to draw my own conclusions about it. (It is difficult because I am already biased, based on what I know of her philosophy of Objectivism and based on the opinions of many others who deride her work.) I noticed, more than once, her use of a question mark in the middle of a sentence. This is one of my favorite literary "devices" so to speak, and she did it well. My heart fluttered.

Today, I came across a word in the book which I vaguely knew the definition of, but which I decided to look-up, to have a deeper, more full understanding of it. On a whim, I went to my bookshelf to pull down my Random House Webster's College Dictionary instead of looking the word up online as I usually do. As I flipped through the pages of the dictionary, I found my heart fluttering once again. I'd forgotten how much pleasure I'd once received from actually touching the thin pages, highlighting words, seeing the other words around the one which drew me to the book.

Since I'd long fancied owning one of those large dictionaries that one finds chained to podiums in libraries, my reuniting with my dictionary inspired me to go online to read more of dictionaries. I found myself at this article: Searching for the best dictionary. The author, YiLing Chen-Josephson, compares a number of different dictionaries, grading each one based on stock, definitions, usage guidance, etymologies, and enjoyment. I found myself following along in my own dictionary, and the fluttering in my heart began to expand throughout my entire body. I got limbs tingled. These were not symptoms of a heart-attack, or some other physical ailment. It was like holding hands for the first time with a longstanding crush. It was like the moments before a first kiss.

When I went to look up "nonplussed," a word specifically mentioned in the article, I found myself staring at the word "orgasm" across from the page on which the "N/O" label is located. How appropriate, I thought as my heart raced faster. After I finished reading the article, I proceeded to look up "orgasm" on the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. I found myself titillated, not by the thought of sexual excitement, but by the differences between the ways the word was presented in each dictionary. The pronunciation guides are different. The etymology is written out differently. The numbered definition list versus unnumbered, separate entry for "orgasmic" verses a non-separate entry. And where is the verb form in the Merriam-Webster definition...?

I have nothing more to say. This story has no point. Consider this the anticlimax. From Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Juan Antonio: Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic.

Perhaps the point is that there can be no completion to this excitement I derive from these things. In grade school, I used to read the dictionary for fun, but now I use words clumsily and foolishly. I love them but they don't love me back. And that is what makes it so exciting.

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