Saturday Musings

Morning in The Redlands Hotel

Then Roy Bean got so drunk, he couldn’t talk. Before his tongue grew too thick to manage, Roy Bean became irrritated with Famous Shoes for referring to the words in the Bible as tracks. It did seem to Famous Shoes that they resembled certain birds who skimmed the water’s edge for their prey.

“They’re words, not tracks, you damn Indian!” Roy Bean insisted. “They’re words, like I’m saying to you, now.”

“But words are made from breath. How can they live in such a thing as this book?” Famous Shoes asked.

Lary McMurtry, Streets of Laredo

Rising early in the Redlands Hotel this Saturday morning, I enjoyed a stroll about downtown Palestine before the businesses awakened. It’s been my habit for awhile now to pick up things from the sidewalk that attract my attention that I can stick in my pocket and eventually paste into my journal. This cigarette package I decided to insert and then do a quick sketch with the brush pen I purchased last week, hoping I can get over my uptightness when working with ink.

Trash picked up on the morning stroll, pasted into Journal

Streets of Laredo is turning out to be an adventurous read. I laughed when I read the quote posted above, because Larry McMurtry’s fascination with words always found ways to enter the texts of his stories. I had to bookmark my place so I could lay the volume aside and return to another book I packed for this weekend trip: N. Scott Momaday’s The Man Made of Words. This author, a Kiowa descendent, is fully versed in his own heritage, and also highly educated in the universities and possesses a powerful, artful grasp of language that continually leaves me breathless.

The complexity of language is the quality that gives words their great vitality. We cannot exhaust the power of words; that power is instrinsic. . . . We exist in the element of language. Someone has said that to think is to talk to oneself.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

Years ago, I learned from my readings in Heidegger that the Greek word logos that we often translate as “word” has a fundamental meaning of “drawing together, assembling.” That changed everything for me as I began to ponder the creative power of words. In years of teaching, I tried to urge my students to be mindful of how their spoken or written words contain that power, that force, to create as well as destroy.

All of us can think back over our past, especially our childhood, at the many times words have either empowered us or devastated us. I fear that once we become adults we take that for granted and go through our lives oblivious to the ways that wreckless words tossed about today in the public sector have ways of wreaking destruction. Soon I will be reunited with my friend and fellow blogger Wayne White (“Hank” in my fiction stories). We frequently discuss how we hope that words we put on the blogs will fill people with hope, confidence and strength. And my hope for you today is that you find good things, and say and write good things.

Thanks for reading.

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