Popular feeling in England with regard to the war had already passed through several distinctive phases. Jingo exuberance had marked the outbreak, speedily followed by dismay and anxiety when it became apparent that the Boers were by no means a body of rebels to be taught a sharp lesson, but a hard and skillful enemy who was costing Britain dear in money and lives...Only one newspaper, the Daily Chronicle, had had the courage to voice the Liberal view of the war as an unethical act of aggression and annexation, and its capable and firm-principled editor, Mr H. W. Massingham, had been ignominiously forced to resign by the proprietors, who had presumably noticed a dwindling in circulation. The foreign press, with scarcely an exception, were shrill in their denunciations of Britain's policy and made no attempt to disguise their delight at the Boer successes. Undignified caricatures of Queen Victoria in French and German newspapers stung the colonial secretary to the point of public protest, but to little avail; the other European Powers, not being themselves at the moment engaged in colony-snatching, were universally of the opinion (pure wish fulfilment as it turned out) that the power of the British Empire was finally cracking...Now, in the closing weeks of 1900, public enthusiasm showed uneasy signs of flagging. The war had been going on for more than a year; England had poured into the field the biggest army she had ever been called on to provide; the long and bitter struggle had been crowned by victories which at the time had been thought decisive-and yet the war dragged on. Organized Boer resistance had disappeared, and in its place had come dangerous little handfuls of men who invaded Cape Colony and were difficult to catch, and did damage out of all proportion to their size...The public at home was sick of the war and becoming vaguely dissatisfied. The fervid enthusiasm of '99 had dwindled to grumbling doggedness in the second year of struggle.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
The Little Slide Maker
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I have little time or money. Had I an excess of either, I am sure that I would exercise my freedoms in excessive libations. These days, though, I am quite sober and my independent creative moments are spent in a hunch-backed fever, punching words into a keyboard or scribbling into a notebook resting on my knee. It was my plan, by this time this year, to have income enough and the open schedule to spend a handful of notable hours in blissful inebriation, experiencing the fall colors of the rural northeast with dazzling false intensity. I smoke the occasional dry cigar until I’m dizzy, but there isn’t room to drink.
Instead, I mostly scribble on the train, the bus, during lunch, and at night, when I walk from here to there and on the way I have to stop and sit down and write in my notebook on my knee. There are so few moments to squeeze in the story that I practice my personal craft of piezochronosyngraphophilia, letting the sleepless hours stack up so that I might translate the deepening lines under my eyes into published lines in a magazine or book.
Even when I go to get a drink, when I plot a trip to the building where the vending machines are, the whole way lost in a thought, I arrive to find I haven’t enough change to acquire the mixer for a beverage. So I think to myself that tonight is instead another night for writing. The ideas rise so I sit and put down two more pages in the notebook before returning home to punch them into the word processor.
It was supposed to be so poetical, drinking in the autumn sun like mead running sideways through the red and yellow trees. But maybe the harsher reality is the more poetic. Shucking the useless things from the routine until all that’s left is work and poetry. Work by day, poetry by night. It’s making the night last and last that might make them memorable and bright as lit liquor.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
The facts upon which definitions are based are so varied and complex and at times intangible that it requires a giant volume typeset in small print to make the “meaning” of a language understood.
Definitions appearing in the dictionary are precision essays. One takes a word out of the language, a word with countless connections to every other word; a word with history, influence, connotations, and emotion; a word with a unique sound and intonation and which attempts to circumscribe a part of the human experience and assign it to a word. The organizational human brain whittles down an infinity of possibilities, mental tokens, symbols, and feelings into a taut collective that gives simultaneously the broadest and narrowest scope allowable. This tiny audible drama draws together otherwise disparate minds in a repetitive performance, actor and audience indistinguishable in the resulting spectrum of cerebral communion.
A definition is only involved in the scientific method to the extent that observations have been made as to the character of other speakers’ uses of words; and these utterances based on nothing more than childhood imprinting. Therefore, the dictionary is not only a precision essay, but really a minute persuasive composition. It comes complete with etymology and annis and the occasional quote from a refereed source to demonstrate that this particular stance has the witness of ages.
Writers work on essays of many different lengths. Poets on poems of varied meter and line. Of all the genres, the definition is the ultimate terse expression of intellect, a paring down of all unnecessary ornament to leave just visible the outline of a single word.
Poets may weave phrases that expose more of the internal, unspoken self. Dance may connect individuals more viscerally than flapped-tongue speech. Music may move the soul more paces than any mere word can motivate. But the definition, the sweet seed of language, strikes at the core of what a word is, where it has been, where it is going, and what it can do, today, to bring minds together to work towards that singular human purpose of expanding and contracting the very universe in which we live, making it reside within and between and among us, to enrich our days under the sun and enliven the planet for this day and beyond.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The ultimate role of the good student of language is to convince a majority of his acquaintances that they should use as little of it as possible.
Follow up: The conscientious linguist realizes that there is so much to talk about, yet so little to say.