Lovers and Fools and Seething Brains

Latisha LaRue (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 09:19:31 -0600

The wcenter list is full of lovers. Lovers and writers. We love
words, let's admit it. So when any of us begin grousing about C's
presentations and certain words, I think we have to look beyond just the
words. I wonder if much of my reaction over the years to language I find
unwelcoming has more to do with whether or not the words seem to transform
the real into something artificial. Toss me a word like "yonic" or
"Gyrinophilus" and you've got me hooked. I'll head for the OED or Jung
everytime. Like everyone on this list, I am curious and nearly lustful
for more words. If Carl Glover gets going on the roots of some
music-related term, I'll sing. But when I have a sense that words are
being used to impress rather than to mean, to exclude rather than to
fascinate or attract, I leave. If not physically, I leave mentally. On
principle, I want to part of that. It reminds me of kids in high school
who misuse the thesaurus woefully.
It is linked to the acts of teaching and learning, I suppose, at
least for me. If teaching exists for the teacher to display her
knowledge, it goes nowhere. But if it is a repsonse to the learner's
need, her passion to know, then the neurons and protons will spark. I
suppose, however, that this is not the way it is for everyone and thus we
have our varying responses to this question.
On the matter of presentations being the reading of a journal
article, I'm not so sure. I used to think that reading papers was a
waste of time. I could just read it after all. But when a reader reads
*well*, the aloud verbalizing in the author's voice is different than my
reading it from a journal. I find that the problem, however, is that many
readers do not read well at our conferences. Break-neck speed, mumbled
words, no sense of authority, a lack of passion perhaps. I suspect, too,
that by writing a paper for a C's presentation, a presenter might be able
to achieve greater development, greater depth. I'm not sure. I know that
when I heard the papers of Paula Gillespie, Kathleen Yancey, and Laura (oh
heck, I've forgotten her last name) read in Milwaukee last year, I was
riveted. I would not have missed this reading for anything. Similarly,
hearing E.O. Wilson, Joy Harjo, and Pam Houston read -- I'd never have
opted for a more hands-on or interactive presentation. But when I think
of the countless readings I've heard, I suspect, mainly from people's
dissertations, which make me feel like litmus paper for a dissertation
committee, those readings whre it seems that the reader, him/herself is
no longer interested in the topic, those readings filled with
words-to-impress rather than words-to-mean -- those are my Lilliputian
days when I wish I had the power to shrink and trickle out under the
Katie Fischer



The Margin: