Monday, January 31, 2005

I just saw this terrifying headline on the AP wires:

First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say. The First Amendment is no big deal?!?!?! I'd say the First Amendment is a pretty damn big deal. And if we don't protect it, if we get apathetic about it, we're in real danger of losing it. How can these students not see how precious our freedom of speech is in this world? Do these students Want to have their words censored, stifled? Aaargh!

There was a much less depressing article about freedom of speech--in this case, the physical freedom of speech--in this Sunday's Los Angeles Times Magazine. The author, Marjorie Miller, had throat surgery which made it difficult for her to speak. This lead to her lovely meditation on the weight of words, the muscularity of words, the power of both words and silence. It is always a delight to see someone acknowledge the lusciousness of language. I know just how she feels when she writes

Words for me are textured and physical. That is why "cloud" and "bluff" annoy me, as the sounds are contrary to their meanings. Clouds are fluffy and bluffs are hard drops. "Plethora" is full-bodied, as it should be. And "persnickety" is as fussy and staccato as it sounds. A joy to say, albeit a pain to live with, I know.

When writing is a chore, my hands feel leaden. But when I write something that excites me, my fingers tingle as though they are conducting electric words. I like to read my writing aloud to see how the words feel on my tongue, and how they sound.

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