The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘shakespeare’

Four Days And Counting…

Posted by BigWords on December 27, 2009

It’s something of a tradition, as the old year gives way to the new, that a short moment is given over to reflection on those who have passed in the previous twelve months. I’ve been surprised – rooting around the old Absolute Write threads – that nobody has thought of putting together such a list for the wordsmiths who have passed beyond the veil. Well, that is all set to change, as I have usurped the role of official chronicler from whoever was meant to be putting together such a thing. Yup, that’s the reason I haven’t been so active around the internet, commenting on blogs and such, but I’m sure I can be forgiven my lack of participation in the day-to-day activities as I toil away in my own mad way.

It started out as a few names, hastily sketched down in a notebook, but rapidly grew into an obsession. That’s what you get when OCD begins scratching away in the back of the mind, demanding a comprehensive run-down, alphabetized and with copious links to ensure that a level of understanding can be gained into the work of those who are no longer with us. I’m currently up to four pages of names, though I had (about a week ago) assumed myself to be 80% through the names. I was wrong, and the list grew substantially. It doesn’t help that I have signed up to various news feeds and e-mail alerts, begun digging through old obituaries, read Locus’ online portions, and trawled through Wikipedia.

Which brings up an interesting point – I’m not linking anything directly to Wikipedia. I’ll use the wiki to gather direct information (their links), but the site itself doesn’t meet my criteria for accuracy. There’s a long history of me bitching in forums that surfing Wikipedia is a poor substitute for research, but I’m willing to concede that it (sometimes) manages to throw up the odd name or two I wouldn’t have thought of. That, in case you missed it, is an apology to Wikipedia for my dismissal of its’ usefulness. Don’t hold your breath for a more glowing tribute to it, ’cause one ain’t coming.

The main thing I have realized, as the names accumulate, is the shockingly young age of some writers. My peers, people my own age and younger, are among the departed. It’s scary, and a bit intimidating. Here’s something I thought of – you know that feeling, when you first understood how far away the Earth was from the sun, and how far away the sun was from other galaxies, and how far those galaxies were from the rest of the universe, and how small and insignificant we truly are… That’s kinda the same feeling I had when I stood back and looked at the ages of some of the writers. I also has a few moments when I had to walk away from the laptop before the utterly depressing nature of such an undertaking got to me.

I’ve also begun thinking of the myriad ways in which I might – one day long from now, hopefully – die. It seems that many of the writers over the past year have died of cancer. That’s scary. That’s scary in ways which cuts through the bullshit and hits straight in the gut. My paternal grandmother died of cancer – and my mother has had a few scares – so it runs in the family.  I smoke a lot, and my chances of dying from the disease are slightly above average. Slightly. My paternal grandfather had a few heart attacks in his thirties, and my maternal grandfather had cancer at the end. I have genes which are custom-built for self-destruction, aided and assisted by a streak of obsessive compulsive weirdness.

Not the Christmas cheer you came looking for, right? Sorry. I’m not up to dancing the Snoopy dance for your entertainment.

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth: your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
. So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
. You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.


The immortals, those whose words will continue to ring down through the ages, may no longer be with us in person. They are gone, but their words will outlive us all. It’s a wonderful reassurance that everything isn’t in vain – we will always be here as long as our work is remembered. I don’t hold on to religious notions, so grasping at immortality by vicarious means is as good as I can hope for. That’s why remembering those who came before us is important, and why time should be set aside to think of those who have gone from our midst. It’s why I’m putting my piece together. It’s why I’ve been surprisingly quiet this last week or so.

Things should be back to normal soon enough. Savor the quiet while you have it.


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It’s Not My Fault If You’re Not Up To Speed

Posted by BigWords on August 6, 2009

I’m going to throw around a few thoughts which have been cropping up again and again in the last few weeks. It’s not a complaint about the lack of deciphering abilities people are capable of, whatever it may seem like…

There’s a good chance you will have come across words, phrases or concepts which are tough to place into context, and I usually form an unnatural attraction to these types of English usages. There will be examples in a moment, though I want to start off with the reasons I twist the language to suit my needs, because it might seem that I’m being deliberately obscure. I’m not. I love new words, and I really love new usages of old words.

“Magpie” is something I use a lot. To magpie is, rather than simply stealing, to use a core conceit or concept from an established work, or to use a moment from my own experiences. I don’t like “steal” because it’s uncomfortably close to “plagiarize”, and that is verbotten, so I use magpie instead. A similar thought usage for the “take the temperature”, which really should be accepted by most people, is a description of popular opinion.

I gotta take the temperature on prologues for my WIP

This has been used by enough people that I really needn’t be forced to explain it, but some people give me ‘the look’ when I use the phrase. Also, as can be seen above, I throw around a few words from other languages, and if you need those explained, well… lets just say that there are books out there that you really shouldn’t try reading. Especially Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange. I used “moloko” in place of “milk” for about a year after reading Orange, so you have been warned.

A current favorite is The Weave. You’re staring at that sentence, trying to think of what it could mean, but you’re looking at it right now. The weave ties the world together, streaming the good and the bad, tying us all together. It really isn’t fair to the current incarnation of the internet to lump it in with the stuff, so we have to view it as separate with a new term for it’s abilities. Weave seems as good a word as any.

Pop culture plays into my vocabulary as much as literature or trad English usage. “Groovy” was imprinted on my brain the first time I saw Evil Dead II, and I have been known to use nyuk-nyuk-nyuk after watching The Three Stooges. There is a lot of words now considered to be part of the English language, but the proliferation of words only causes problems when someone (normally this would be me) uses a word which has different meanings.

I’m not trying to confuse anyone deliberately, and I have gone out of my way to avoid using certain phrases here.

“Static” is another word which I use liberally, as in: “Quit giving me static.” I know, I know… So not proper usage of the word, and bordering on annoying.

Just think yourselves lucky that I haven’t written a post in slang, or Polari, or 1337… No, I don’t use Leet normally, but if you want to confuse people it is better than Caesar cypher. The old ‘add egg to every word’ also works well to create new words.

…and I got to thinking of fictional languages when I was pondering my own vocabulary. Klingon and Elvish (from Tolkien) are the two best known fictional languages, and yet they exist in isolation, unlike our own languages. You can trace Italian and Spanish back to Latin (and there is a substantial amount of overlap in words) though it is impossible to see the origins of fictional languages. I’m surprised no-one has seen this.

Does my use of certain words constitute a shift in English? No. There would need to be a large-scale use of the words before they are considered English, and I doubt that the ways I like to bend the rules of word-form will come easily to others. Is it still acceptable to use fictional words, or words out of context? Yes, absolutely. You’ll find that the hold-outs are going to be people from schools and colleges who despise any butchery of the language; but remember… Shakespeare changed English with his work.

As long as I keep writing, I’m not going to help myself but to use fragments. And start with ‘and’. Or throw in some unusual voxy.

Keep paying attention, because you never know when I might coin a brand new word.

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