Today (well, most of the time) my metaphorical cupcakes are words. I do tend to love words in a way usually reserved for people. I’ve been reading so many inspiring words lately, too, which makes me giddy and obsessive about producing chewy, delicious sentences of my own: I finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides which just sprawls and unfurls in gorgeous, painful ways. I’ve read several short articles online that are exactly the type of taut wisdom I’d like to produce for the internet generation, like this, this, and this.
And I know many people out there are anti-Kindle, but besides using it for such practical and lovely things as traveling (many many books in one infinitely packable package) and for reading tomes that have a brick-like length and weight difficult for commuter reading, I love the dictionary feature. As I read, any word I come across that I don’t know I can click on and find out the definition. Instant gratification and I’m getting smarter? You cannot ask for more than that, people.
For now I’m going to tell you five words I love the most right now, the five that are bouncing around in my head making me want to, as they say, use them in a sentence.
Funny enough, they are sort of interrelated. Eugenides used luminescence in his novel, and I didn’t need to look it up; doesn’t it have such a lovely onomatopoeic quality? The word lights up just like the lighting bug it would describe. And he also used translucent several times, and I didn’t need to look this one up either because I remember so specifically learning it in fourth grade science class (transparent, translucent, opaque. I’m sure reflecting and refracting were part of that lesson too). It has such a gauzy quality, and it’s so specific. I like specificity. It is also pleasing to the tongue. Roll it around your mouth, you’ll see.
These reminded me of my favorite word ever, iridescent. I first stumbled upon that one in a deck of cards for a board game I cannot for the life of me remember the name of or how it was played. I just remember a little stack of white cards, each with four words printed on it. I liked to string them together as insults (they had nothing to do with each other, and it had a Mad-Libs absurdist quality to it to say them together.) But that’s when I first saw iridescent. It’s another shiny word that really sounds like what it means.
So those are three words related to light, and I think it all makes sense subconsciously: my brain is fighting the ubiquitous (Latin root! I want to make out with this word too) gray dreariness of London the only way it can: with words.
The other two words are connected as well. One is oblique. Say it out loud. It has a cheerful sound, despite its meaning, which I did have to look up while reading Eugenides’ book. And I keep looking it up because I can’t hold the definition in my head. I want it to mean something else. I keep having the thought, “London is oblique to me.” But that’s not really true: London isn’t deceptive or devious. What it is, is opaque. London is dense, and obscure to me. I cannot penetrate it, just like light can’t. But I’m working on it. Every now and then I have a translucent London moment. Maybe they will string together and the city will open up and become transparent to me.
In any case, how lovely, opaque brought me full circle, back to my fourth grade lesson on light.
The flattening squash of the “que” in both oblique and opaque is somehow comforting. Is that strange? It is further bizarre that these words with negative connotations are turning me on right now? Am I just perverse, or are there words that don’t have positive meanings that please you aurally, and therefore inspire you?
What are your favorite words this week?