lamenting the loss of nouns

People. Place. Things.  Dirt on a bad day.  Soil on a good day. I used to play in the mud and dig in the cold, hard clay.  It was red and wild and on the eve of winter, when death began to creep into our small southwestern town, the sky would turn crimson and we'd be baptized in color.

Trains cut through the land leaving steel spikes.  Machinery.  Motion.  Smoke stack skies of factories and railway stations, baptizing us in soot. On horseback, I can see the land.  On train, I can see the whole country and never see the land.  We become vapor.  John Henry might have won the battle, but the machine is eternal.

I pull out a pencil and it's portable.  I never dip it in ink.  I never feel the slight variations in the fluid movement of a feather.  Cold, hard, mechanical (if I have enough money and even on a teacher salary, I do).  A neighbor said the pencil is "the best thing since sliced bread."  I told my wife that our family would knead bread together, if nothing else, at least to feel the sticky dough and to toss the flour and to watch the yeast rise slowly. When it was hot, I sliced it myself just to remind myself that "the most convenient" doesn't mean "the best."

In the pencil world, we have programs to help my writing flow smoother.  Nong, Bang, Goggle, Zobo (a  whole toolbox with that one - arrives on a train).  When I flip through the binder, I used to say "searching through the tabs," but now I just say, "Goggle it," and I wonder if they are like beer goggles - causing me to miss the earthy reality of life.  I don't send mail anymore.  I simply mail it.  I don't send a message on my penpal network.  I simply message it.

Eventually, the English language will be reduced to onamonapea and all nouns will be verbs and we'll wake up some day a century from now wondering what happened to our sense of space and place and identity.

1 comment:

  1. Why Tom Johnson you language maven you. There are a few phrases that jar on my nerves despite their apparent establishment in the language. "Integrating pencils will impact learning in the classroom," would be one example.