A picture is worth more tha a thousand words but a word can also be worth more than a thousand pictures. Think “blimey,” “eureka” or “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. And then, as American humorist Mark Twain said, the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
Advertisers know those obvious facts as well as poets and writers of fiction. In a global, world, translation itself is a culture-sensitive art. Finding that “right” word may be near impossible in this transitional phase of the digital age.
Roget’s thesaurus is a bible of the traditional writer. It not only lists words and nuanced variations of the meaning, it lists words associated with those variations. An hour with the original hardbound Roget’s is like manna for the mind. Ideas bubble and gush. The original Roget’s is over a thousand pages. The simple verb walk has dozens of direct synonyms with dozens of synonyms for those. A google search for synonyms of walk shows up less than a dozen and searches for synonyms of those are likely to produce only repeats.
Information is the sacrificial lamb in this transitional stage of the digittal age. The digital version of the information lodestone, the Britannica, is a shockingly paltry let-down to the hungry mind. The tendency now is to dismiss the need to know more than Google offers, particularly in the US where education has been largely a mythic ideal. Overall, Americans look down on intellectuals in favor of the common man. In a global world, the common man may soon look stupid if the language of information continues to be dumbed down to suit Google
Poets, Writer, Tweeters
he bicameral nature of the human brain has long been known. The two lobes process different kinds of information and do it by different pathways. While both sides are used in everyday life, primarily using the left leads to linear thinking while relying on the right leads to lateral or creative thinking. Computer images bombard the brain. Information is processed differently in brains never wired for logical linear thinking. The difference accounts for generational gaps within cultures and friction betwen cultures with differing thinking styles.
Writer Fogarassy is comfortable in the global cultural mix with its different thinking styles. Hungarian by birth, she has snuck the deeper European values into her work for Americans where the dollar was the stark bottom line. Honor, decency and honesty were second nature to her. In the American workplace, those virtues were condescendingly tolerated at best.
Decades of work with the United Nations suggests that the rest of the world is in her shoes as the world grows global. Tha
Writers are a breed apart from other folks. Like those who practice any art, writers are a charmed subspecies. They are forever children. They see the world as a gestalt whole while other adults learn to segment their lives to be socially useful. Artists find new ways of looking at life to make life more meaningful for others. Writers do this with the precision of words.
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the diffrence between lightening and a lightening bug, the American humorist Mark Twain reportedly said. He made that observation while recording his impressions of the age in which he lived.
Twain was born in the border state of Missouri as the young America was liberating slaves through a civil war. With that question settled, Twain turned his attention to the new American identity forming apart from its European roots. In a global world 150 years later, those roots are newly entwining to insure world security with the democracy Amerca adapted from forebears.
Like Twain, Fogarassy records her view of the tumultuous world in which she lives. The surprising factor is the degree to which elements remain the same the more that conditions change.
Fogarassy was born into post WWII Communist Hungary. The family was forced to flee after a 1956 revolution against oppression was put down by Russian Soviet tanks. The Iron Curtain across half Europe came down in 1989 and the Soviet Union itself collapsed two years after that. Yet 30 years later, Russia began rebuilding its evil empire by invading Ukraine. A new American president united European allies in aid of Ukraine’s fight against invasion, but a new form of tyranny had those countries in its grip.
As in Fogarassy’s case, forced migrations were not new in the 21st century. The novelty was the added complexity of racial distinction. In the threatening age of globalization, the racial factor became highly politicized.
From the Euro-American perspective, it seemed the rich western industrialized powers were hell bent on creating gated communities to protect themselves. Through a broader lens, all cultures are proud and protective of their heritage.
Economic dominence, military might & industrial strength are critical factors in a country’s global standing. But good will & willingness to cooperate are equally important for success in tackling global challenges like climate, health, food and freedom to live and communicate.
Enduring values are the ones that interest internatiolist writer Fogarassy. With good will as the umbrella virtue, immense changes are manageable if honor, ritual and respect are part of the
Career practitioners of any art are the lucky ones in a society. They are free spirits, dedicated to self expression. Unfortunately at present, society does not recognize artists as central to its soul. The Covid pandemic may have sparked a revolution in the direction of art.
Isolated in a series of shutdowns, people deprived of routine distractions found life empty. Pre-pandemic jobs were boring and not worth the security that servitude offered. The creative seed had seemingly found fertile ground but society had to till the soil if the flower was to flourish.
A Google search shows creativity as synonymous with innovation and its value is measured by income. A search for social and cultural creativity brings up a whole slate of different countries, half of them with emerging economies. Perhaps this current divergence in values points to a happy future world with art having a central role in the soul of each country.
For such a change to occur, the west would venture forth from its current tech comfort zone. The United States in particular would drop its disdain for intellectual pusuits. Liberal arts degrees would be promoted as much as MBAs and they would be mainstreamed so as to free the intelligent from their current Ivory Tower prisons. Most importantly from the perspective of a writer, the current social media dumpsite would take on meaning.
Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway were just two of the many writers throughout the ages who stressed the importance of experience to writing. “Write what you know,” Twain advised. In today’s highly structured society, independent experience is a hair-raising venture.
Churchhill once said that success is the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. By that measure, a writer becomes good at the craft by chasing daily success in the form of faith in the process despite the lack of external acknowledgment. Writing a tweet can take little or much effort. Only the writer knows whether the words conveyed the idea intended. Number of follows, retweets or responses bear little or no relevance to the writing.
As an expression of thoughts and feelings. writing is iniquely poised for precision. A writer knows when the sweet spot has been hit. When it hits that same spot in thr reader, eureka!
In the social media age, words fight through jungles before that mutual sweet spot is hit. By then, those wordsa have already made the laborious trek from mind and heart to the screen. Alas, evidence is scant that many writers brave the rigors of honing words to great precision. Yet the classics prove the value of the effort, however tedius the reading by modern standards. “To be or not to be” is as relevant as ever.
Scholars, students and esoterics read the classics. They are a joy to know. Those who write in the classic mode are in for a hard struggle. Posting on social media calls for suspending all the the rules that help a writer express deep thoughts and feelings.