Author Loraine Despres will give you short takes on love, life's little ironies, and the world as she moves through it, with detours including how to attract men and keep them happy. That's easy. Writing, that's harder. The writer's life, that one is the hardest of all.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me." went the nursery rhyme of my youth. Reeling from the tragedy in Arizona we know, of course, that names can and do hurt. They can also inspire people to unspeakable acts. And those snarky, disparaging, mean-girl words whether voiced by the mean girl herself or her coterie of parrots who are now crying tyranny at the suggestion that their words could have inspired any action are being heard around the world.
Today, I received this quotation from a German friend. I especially like: "
Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all."
Victor Klemperer on Nazi propaganda:
How "the language of a clique became the language of a people"
"No, the most powerful influence was exerted neither by individual speeches nor by articles or flyers, posters or flags; it was not achieved by things which one had to absorb by conscious thought or conscious emotions.
Instead Nazism permeated the flesh and blood of the people through single words, idioms and sentence structures which were imposed on them in a million repetitions and taken on board mechanically and unconsciously. . . language does not simply write and think for me, it also increasingly dictates my feelings and governs my entire spiritual being the more unquestioningly and unconsciously I abandon myself to it.
And what happens if the cultivated language is made up of poisonous elements or has been made the bearer of poisons? Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all.
The Third Reich coined only a very small number of the words in its language, perhaps - indeed probably - none at all. . . But it changes the value of words and the frequency of their occurrence, it makes common property out of what was previously the preserve of an individual or a tiny group, it commandeers for the party that which was previously common property and in the process steeps words and groups of words and sentence structures with its poison.
Victor Klemperer, The Language of the Third Reich: A Philologist's Notebook, trans. Martin Brady, London: Continuum, 2002, pp. 15–16