Thursday, November 28, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
When I pondered on it, the root word was "guy". I happen to know that the word guy comes from Guy Fawkes, a character from history who is often mocked and burned in effigy (which is why a generic, faceless dude is a "guy"). So clearly, as a verb, it makes sense that guying someone is mocking them. Still though, why had I never heard it before?
Simply put? Probably because I'm American. Guy Fawkes means absolutely nothing to the average American. He had no part in our history in any direct manner. We don't know what Guy Fawkes Day is, nor do we know when it is or why it matters (unless you are a particular fan of V for Vendetta). As such, this somewhat colloquial term never entered our language.
It is a remarkable thing how people who speak the same language can end up really speaking quite different languages, just by growing up in different locations. The differences in vocabulary and speech patterns, though, are an excellent way to identify and add specialness to your characters. It's not always easy, but it is a powerful tool when writing.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
“Evil is the use of force to get what you want. The second you decide that coercion is ok, that’s evil.”
This struck me when I heard it. To make people do what something they do not want to do in order to get something you want sounds resoundingly evil. Amongst humanity, collective well-being seems to always be the most virtuous and noble principle. Anything that is selfish, by which I mean harming the collective well-being for personal gain, is almost invariably evil.
One could argue that "the use of force to get what you want" is the same thing as "might makes right", and that it is a perfectly valid morality. However, one could also argue against it, saying that the only people who believe such things are those who benefit from it.
But the point here is that the arguments could be made on both sides. And this is precisely why they should be explored.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
‘Can’ and ‘May’ are often used interchangeably, but they do have different flavors of meaning worth recognizing.
Generally speaking, ‘can’ means having the ability to do something, and ‘may’ means having the permission to do something. “You can drive this car” means that you are able to operate the vehicle. “You may drive this car” means that you have the blessing to do so.
However, what makes this whole thing a massive clusterfuck is that each of the words individually have multiple meanings.
‘Can’ often is used to mean having permission. Any normal person who says “You can drive my car” is clearly granting permission; it is a universally understood speech pattern, which makes it grammatically correct. Similarly, any normal person who asks, “Can I borrow your car” is clearly asking for permission; the only people who say “I don’t know, can you” are assholes.
‘May’ becomes more problematic because its secondary meaning is that an action is uncertain. “I may drive my car” means that there is a chance that I will drive my car, but there is also a chance that I won’t.
What is most amazing here is that we as English speakers pretty much always understand which meaning of which word is intended solely by the context in which it is said. However, some situations do allow for ambiguity, and some people thrive on using ambiguity or dual meanings to screw with others, so these words can be problematic in use.
Again, although people know how to use these words latently, it is valuable to know the differences and understand the subtle implications of using one word versus another.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
People love stories about a character with an indomitable spirit. Such examples are the little girl who never stops believing that everybody has goodness inside, the young man who faces all obstacles in order to achieve his goals, the brother who looks over his sister regardless of the personal cost, and the wife who holds together her family while waiting for her husband to return from his voyages.
Like most story tropes, though, people like this because it is uncommon in reality. The idea of the indomitable spirit flies in the face of the human condition. What people are the most skilled at is adapting. No matter how fantastic or how repugnant a person’s situation is, it will quickly become normal to them. It is the greatest survival mechanism we have – what doesn’t kill us becomes our norm.
And yet, we love stories where people don’t adapt. We are amazed by characters who never let bad situations bring them down. We are encouraged when characters filled with hope refuse to let themselves get deflated, and we are vindicated when those characters see the things they hoped for become real.
Stories often do not show us how life really is, but show us how we wish life was. Struggle and stress still exist, but we handle them well. And people who stay strong long enough are rewarded. It is a lovely ideal, no matter how rare it is, and one that may be worth perpetuating, no matter how unlikely it is. After all, maybe some day it will become a reality.