TTWDWW: When is Too Much Just Right or Just Too Much?

This Thing We Do with Words, a slight return.

Part Nine

When is Too Much Just Right or Just Too Much?

Then again, I consider my own form of “enhanced and fortified non-fiction” to be predominantly narrative story-telling, much like the verbal tradition of the great American Tall Tale.

As much as I like the challenge of the bon mots, if you were listening rather than reading, you wouldn’t have the luxury of going to the dictionary every page.

Although I consider Tom Robbins to be one of the most brilliant authors of our time, his propensity for excess regarding obfuscation was perhaps best personified in “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates” when the protagonist, “Switters” used the term phrontifugic (A reference to banishing or relieving anxiety by escaping from one’s thoughts).

As fond as I am of those bon mots, he alone has prompted me to go to the dictionary more than any other author. The Urban Dictionary, which was the only source I could find that used it in context, had to resort to quoting his own sentence in order to use phrontifugic as an example. Wikipedia does not recognize it, nor does Wiktionary.

It is currently the most obscure word I have ever encountered, but his prodigious talent as a novelist inspires me to want to be a better author.

In 2005, (Wild ducks Flying Backward) he stated that given the abysmal state of our national consciousness, if we can’t get our heads out of our own asses, the only hope left was to perfect brewing your own beer and making a good thin-crust pizza.

He described his last book, entitled “B is for Beer” (2009) as either a children’s book for adults or an adult book for children.

I got the distinct impression that “B is for Beer” was his way of flipping off his publisher for one last book. He is now 82 years old. If he were to publish another more challenging book, I don’t know if it would receive the wide-spread readership he once enjoyed. Not so much because of any shortcomings on his part, but rather an increasingly short supply of readers willing to make that much of a commitment.

I did not purchase “B is for Beer”. It took less than twenty minutes to read standing up in Barnes and Noble. Of course, maybe I was the moron for not recognizing its inherent brilliance.

In the near-silence of the bookstore, I was surprised no one heard my heart breaking.

Maybe he was right. Literature (by virtue of participation) is one of the hottest mediums of expression or entertainment there is. Two of the most important things you can bring to this picnic are an appetite, and an imagination.

A few decades ago, Marshall Mcluhan described Television and Film as a cool medium. Now it is colder than a gynecologist’s speculum. They only require an appetite or just boredom, like junk-food. There is no longer any need for imagination. Everything else is already provided, courtesy of digital effects. All you have to do is show up and pay your money. Television and Film are easy and seductive, so it is rapidly displacing Literature and reading as entertainment.

In a world of passive entertainment, reading is becoming as arcane and superfluous as conversation, letters, writers or readers.

Reading and thinking are just too much like work to the masses who “live lives of quiet desperation”.

Namasté

नमस्ते

Chazz Vincent

04/23/2015

 

2 Responses to “TTWDWW: When is Too Much Just Right or Just Too Much?”

  1. I see some evidence that this is not true. Both can exist in the younger generation. I hope I’m not seeing an exception or something that will die out… I’m an optimist or delusional. Reading is fostered and awarded all through elementary, middle school and high school in some schools. The dissection or “diagramming” of stories teaches them so much about storytelling and if they have the interest, they will continue reading past graduation AND for fun!

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