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Lingual Diversity

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"hot tango in the land of ice and fire and rock" [Apr. 12th, 2009|11:38 am]
Lingual Diversity


The indirectness of their exchanges had become even more elliptical. He's following his thoughts into the colon of a social beast he can't come close to loving. She's holding hands with love on a visit to the barren edge of life.

"They're like fire and ice," Alice Adams, their editor in London, had told her colleague. "Except they keep taking turns. Switching back and forth. Being one thing, and then another. Sometimes in the same paragraph. Like it doesn't really matter."

Daniel Trim, her senior editor, had asked why she thought they'd even bothered. Starting something with no direction, that didn't seem to be going anywhere. She'd asked herself that same question. More than once. So in a phone call with the boy about something else, she slipped in the question the editors all had.

"Why did you keep this strange, vague, unformed, back-and-forth thing going?" she asked.

"Well," the boy answered, "whether hormone racing through the world, bumping knockers with her own personal angst or indecision, or making chocolate cake -- I liked hearing her voice."

"And that's why?" Alice asked.

"No," he answered. "That's just what I liked."

"So why, then?"

"I don't know. The exchanges somehow developed a life of their own. Something written. Something written back. It's like without an idea, a direction, or a plan for a story, the words kept coming together and trying to find one. On their own."

"So the words trying to find the story, then, became the story?"" she asked.

"Yeah. It's what happens in our heads, when we write stuff. The words keep colliding, eliding, sliding, into, over, and past each other. Leading to another word, idea, something somewhere else. Like our neural firings are responding to the thing we've made, the language. And the language, with a changing and evolving history and life, is actually living in our heads."

Alice was silent. The boy paused for a five-count, then tried to clarify the buttery vagueness of what he'd said, in seventy words or less.

"Stories are just reflections, records or accounts, of what's happening upstairs, in the squirrel attic. With this vague and nomad-wander story, the words became a kind of living, evolving image of what and how we thought. And it was nice to see it. Hear its voice. Like another element of your life, just chugging along beside you, somehow, on its own."

"And this is how the girl saw it, too?" Alice asked.

"I'm not sure. Maybe partly. Maybe mostly, at times. We were similar and different people, who'd lived in similar and subtly different cultures, who were also changing. So how we saw things was pretty mixed up, and changing."

"And it didn't bother you? The boyfriend thing?" Alice asked. Editors -- male or female, could easily slip into the role of nosey mother.

"Are you kidding? I was really happy for her."

"Really," she asked, finding this part as difficult to believe as anything he'd said.

"Yeah, really. Really really," he answered. "Cheek kiss and long drawn-out, full-frontal, chest-and-hips-touch, linger hug, without the whisper of a hard-on -- happy for her. Except, you know, for the fact that we never actually met. So the embracing was all done indirectly. Using words."

Alice paused again, then finally asked, "Without a whisper?"

The boy breath laughed. "Well, at least not a full shout-out."

20090412 11:04 Sun (555 words)