January 13, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Posted in writing | 22 Comments
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In the interests of simplification I have decided to do away with one word each day. I shall choose a word each day to put away and never use again and in this way my life will become lighter and easier. The great ocean of language with its infinite directions, tides, texts, undertows, subtexts, overflows and contexts will be reduced gradually to a small pond fit only for late season herons in search of easy frogs.

It surprises many people that I am monosyllabic in person. When forced into conversation I feel like a slow animal laden with a great burden and I often go a whole week without saying anything other than please and thankyou to shopkeepers. Perhaps my peculiarly ornate writing style is an overcompensation for my tendancy to silence.

Now it is time to bring my typing into line with my speaking and by the end of the year there will be over three hundred less words from which to choose. By the end of my life perhaps I shall be down to only a handful. One should hang onto these dreams.

And so, the first word to be discarded forever. I have been thinking about it all day, flicking through favourites like pusillanimous and parsimonious, serendipity and consequence but for this act to be more than empty symbolism it should be a smaller word that I use more often. And I have decided, quite arbitrarily in the end, on the word ‘gravity’.


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  1. conceptual language deconstruction effect across ‘time’. reduction, simplicity. the word vanishes from its frame on the wall. the frame too vanishes. (monosyllabic like a silent bridge i imagine)
    a good choice. may appear blackholes in space where those words once were. suppose a word has collected enough energy to be a planet somewhere and then poof, its gone ha ha. i feel like i should use the word fifty times more often to keep the universe in balance
    such is the gravity of language ha ha
    Your mind is an amazing place, Tipota. You are a genius-type creature indeed.

  2. Lovely – both in concept and execution.
    Thanks, Jim.

  3. Wow. I must bow down in respect of the courage you exude in committing yourself towards such a task. I, at least for the moment, cannot think of doing anything quite on such lines.
    But really, this sounds like a fantastically interesting idea. They say all great ideas are simple in nature, and simplifying communication certainly sounds great.

    For someone as fluent and adept with words as you are, it would be interesting to see whether this would ever be an obstacle. Much greater is said in silence anyway.

    The reason I haven’t been writing too much these days is actually on a similar note, though not quite the same. There are images and realizations in my head which, the moment I try to shape them with words, loose their grandeur and magnanimity.

    As they say, our vocabulary is very limited for conveying anything with spiritual depths with accuracy, but using less of it actually sounds more accurate! 🙂

    And this post was written beautifully too, FYI. I like your prose a lot.
    Thanks Sumedh. Silence is often the most eloquent of responses especially in spiritual matters.

  4. wow, paul, this is really fantastic. every word perfectly balanced, flowing.

    the last line of the first stanza is breathtaking

    and this post goes much better with vanilla mist i commend you there also to change your blog to match the new post
    Thanks Gwendolyn. I like this one for prose and the Cutline for poetry, so I might change it back and forth accordingly.

  5. You are reducing to Newspeak?

    Gravity, gravity…
    In all it’s meanings or just in one sense?

    Is this now a less serious world, or one in which we have free movement in all dimensions?
    Ahh, one might imply the other, Crushed. I shall consider the question gravely.

  6. Excellent idea, and so eloquently expressed. I’m the same in that regard… It’s not in my nature to talk when it isn’t necessary. Even though some may find silence uncomfortable or an outright threat, I think it’s best, well maybe sometimes,to say nothing if there’s nothing to say. Thanks, this made my day :-).
    You’re most welcome.

  7. Ah, I shall do the opposite, then, to keep the world in balance. I pledge to take the cast offs, the poor, orphaned words you discard, and bring them back to life.

    I will make them feel loved again.
    Haha, your wonderful soft heart is showing again, Bryan.

  8. This is lovely to read, though i do hope you’re not going to fade away….

    Have you read ‘Ella Minnow Pea’ by mark Dunn? a wonderful novel about letters being banned from the alphabet, which is written each chapter using fewer letters. A very powerful comment on censorship as well as a very creative work.
    Don’t worry. I won’t fade away, Juliet. I will have to look out for that book.

  9. It’s tempting to say that I love your prose more than the poems but that would only be true until the next poem (or prose). There is something extraordinarily real about your prose though. The magic is still there, the gentle lightness (despite your grave beat on the metronome) but it is the thought that resounds past the reading that is so impossible to dismiss.
    Thankyou, what a beautiful comment compliment.

  10. Beautifully written….
    How hard will it be though, to bring thought in line with writing and speaking ? Somehow I imagine such discarded words as having a life inside your mind, sort of trapped like fireflies inside a glass jar, sad and beautiful in equal measure.
    Thankyou so much. This is the kind of comment under which I wish there was a link.

  11. but i wonder if this will only make you more talkative, teeheehee
    Haha, quite possibly, Mrs Ott.

  12. A poet wanting to get rid of the weight of his words is like a turtle trying to shake off his hunchback…Maybe you can just try walking fast imagining you have a naked flat back:)

    Everytime I read something from you I adore how your brain cells work more and more…
    I will practice walking faster, Sherry. Maybe I can reach takeoff velocity.

  13. hello paul… enjoy dropping by and glance into the world of pirates and burning pianos… interesting post.. you have such a wonderful flair for words that definitely keep me smiling… does this have something to do with life and moving on? to arbitrarily drop words too crowded to speak.. but then again what an excellent word to drop… become as air without an anchor.. lighter in being than the heaviness of thinking… that you would be silent rather than speak with a handful of dreams waiting to be written.. silence is big
    Silence is good for floating in, Ms Pie. Like a sound ocean.

  14. Paul,

    This idea is so awfully radical. I was thinking that for my old age someday (a distant horizon?!) I might reduce my life’s luggage to what would fit inside one room …. But to give up words! Words are more precious than things. Oh, do think some more whether you can let go so many lovely words. One can be rich in words, and what gentle wealth it is.

    Hmm, I have thought about it, Aletha and I think maybe I should invent a new word for everyone I get rid of?

  15. Hi there 🙂

    Seriously? One word a day? hummmmm Seems like a poet without words would be like a painter without paints. But what do I know.

    I like to eat new words for breakfast.

    (Not only that, but I’m female. SO I need all my words in order to hit that daily 25K count the ‘experts’ say we regurgitate! hahaha)

    Say, can I keep the words you don’t want any more?
    No not seriously, Grace. I have trouble with seriously for any more than a minute or two. You can have all the words I get rid off and all the new ones I am going to make up too.

  16. I wish you would turn this idea into a novel. How fascinating to read about the words that would be discarded and the consequences of that.
    Hmm I wish I had the patience and discipline to put such a fantastic idea as yours into practice, Selma. Maybe we could collaborate?

  17. “It surprises many people that I am monosyllabic in person,” etc…

    i, too, have been accused at least a million and a half times of not contributing a sufficient quantity of words to a given conversation…which is why most tend to come away from a chance encounter with me by saying to thesmelves: “no wonder he’s still single…”

    brilliant piece… although that’s a bit obvious…

    Chico! Great to see you again. This is one of many minor details we have in common, I suspect.

  18. i thought this was lovely. “gravity” has a sad and beautiful loneliness to it.

    gravity also makes the world go around.

    have you ever read the poem “the quiet world” by Jeffrey McDaniel?

  19. Paul this is oh so beautiful and oh so eloquent. You have me aching on the inside with the perfect weight and balance of your words…

    People may be surprised when they meet me that I am nowhere near as charming or articulate as I may appear to be on the written page…I’ve come to discover that I’m OK with that.

  20. just don’t ever give up the word love…or hope…or Sunonhead

  21. […] Paul Squires decided in January 2009 (gingatao) that he would remove the word gravity from his […]

  22. […] two years ago on this day at the age of 46 (1963-2010). He once blogged about removing the word gravity from his lexicon – a decision which may have held more weight than we all […]

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