• Of Word/s

                The average reader of literaturejudges the work based on personal experience, the zeitgeist of his/her time oron narrative external from the writing. But the advanced reader, the uberman oflanguage, recognizes and builds meaning from only the evidence from within thetext. That proof is one thing: the word.

                Words do not simply occur on paper;a writer or poet places them, sometimes with sweat furrowing down their brows, sometimes with unconscious thought, sometimes after months of deliberation. And he or she must, for they can be diamonds of the highest carat, or if carelessness sets in and the word is allowed to be like any other, they could not be pawned off for coal.

               The power of the word designates its potential value. If the writer excels, and the word resonates, its connotation will assist with perhaps more than one meaning: the reader must rely on otherpieces of evidence to decipher the most intended idea…by use of other words.Word, word, word. Therein lies the proof. Examine for instance Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying; why not Lie? It seems more accurate of a descriptor. But the author chose Lay and in that choice belies a secret of his intended meaning. Williams teaches us so much depends on a red wheelbarrow—so much depends on its word. Or images and ideas and perceptions lay forever un-evoked. The advanced reader of literature knows that through such connotation we can obtain not only the depth of truth, but also we can find glances of genuine beauty. Conrad’s use of horror on a superficial read may feign simple disgust, but with more examination the reader can see the displaced beauty it replaces, and even it becomes a mental picture. Blanche always depended on the kindness of strangers.  Kindness without connotative reading is asmiley face, an emoticon, flat and simple-minded. With inspection however, itbecomes mercy…more so it transports meaning from the strangers to the I and becomes isolation and loneliness and absolute desperate need. For the sake of meaning, the student reader must find the word.

                And when he or she finds it, thereader learns to hear it. Honest. Othello. River. Huck Finn. Viddy. Clockwork Orange. Man. The Road. Nothing. The Stranger. And it transcends tale and becomes art. 

                From sound and image the one word resonatesand carries the reader to inference.  The reader must ask what that word proves and he or she must then try toanswer it, testing it against the sounds of other words, much like a chemistcombiningchemicals; when they do not disintegrate upon combination, then the student learner induces thought, having permission, no, the natural order from which to evolve an abstraction or general meaning…the ultimate goal of anadvanced reader.  The student who understands the power of the word journeys up Bloom’s ladder of higher order thinking, stepping on support, then stepping on implication, and finally, looking down upon the height he or she has traveled, stands on inspiration’s last slim rung.     

                Words are choices, the most rudimentary writer’s choice based on the tone they bring to suggest the author attitude, even their positioning.  Goodreaders will observe Swift’s doorwayscrowded with mothers and see that it is not mothers (before crowded) in crowded doorways.  The intended focus draws the eye to the door, not the humans, creating a sardonic perspective of satire. Where a word falls helps, if not create, dictate meaning. The shadows, in all facets, the word casts magnetize good readers toward intended significance. From placement, and tone, the student learner can recognize the author’s register, be it frozen to casual to intimate, and use it as just another fingerprint of proof to aid in the discovery of meaning.  And from the use of copulas, those passive verbs, the reader can judge the author’s degree of commitment to the subject.  So much depends upon sound and space. 

                Once a reader learns the potency of the written word, he or she then is free, and obligated, to examine the necessary mating of words.  The advanced reader possesses the tools necessary for such examinations. The student learner becomes aware that words on paper direct him or her to other words; the rub is to find the correct connections, the most direct route to the association, and not allow for misdirection. Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled because it leads nowhere in particular…good reading is somewhere in particular.    

                Searching the combination of wordsis an intellectually dangerous journey in that it can and might and does unwillingly warrant narrative or personal experience.  The advanced reader feels these options withquick fingers of thought and discards them: reading the text, not reading into the text.  This is the type of reader we must all become if we are to honor what is written.  This sounds like a raping.  This appears like a feminist issue.  Ahh, but where in the ink, and only the ink,is it described?  If there is no literal proof to drive the abstract, then the abstract is simply false reader story-telling.

                Words are the C-4 of the text andmust be handled by experts or by people who will become experts; they are dangerous and explosive, but necessary if we are to dig beyond the mineraled layers of text to the author’s ideas. Our safety devices are the metaphor, the paradox, the litotes.  But they can only get us so far. Strict and detailed inference is essential.    

                The reader learner needs to realize that the black ink on paper is the sole evidence, along with the nuances of its own interconnections, and he or she must build his or her argument (proof viainference) words at a time. Ideas beyond the text are external, they are ephemeral cultural norms that possess polymorphic abilities—too many in which to arise and complete understanding; they serve merely as a contrast to the stagnant yet brilliantly fertile text of all great literature.