Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Power of a Quote

Words are magical. I know that sounds cliche and stupid and stupid and cliche, but as an amateur writer I like to think I really notice these things. And some of my favorite works of word magic are quotes.

I love quotes. When people have the ability to say something so powerful or funny, yet so concise and so meaningful that someone will remember it, I think that is a gift. Anyone can write a nine page essay on some boring topic, but when someone really makes a statement in no more than a sentence or two, that is true talent. Think of the inaugural speeches we remember. No one remembers the ridiculously long and boring ones. People remember JFK's, which I believe was the shortest one in history. "Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country." I would like to believe that all Americans know that sentence, up there with "Four score and seven years ago..." which isn't nearly as important in retrospect. Obviously, the Gettysburg Address is important, but why anyone remember the first line is beyond me. It's like how most famous poems are recognized by their first line (i.e. "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day...") except for "The Walrus and the Carpenter." The first stanza of that poem is:
The sun was shining on the sea
shining with all it's might
it did it's very best to make
the billows smooth and bright
and this is odd because it was
the middle of the night
But no one remembers that stanza, everyone remembers:
The time has come, my little friends
to talk of other things
of shoes and ships and ceiling wax
and cabbages and kings
and why the sea is boiling hot
and whether pigs have wings
That stanza really has little value to the meat of the poem, the plot. But it's so Lewis Carroll-y that people can't help but remember it. It's beautiful. It's nonsensical and random and wonderful. Well, that was Lewis Carroll in one sentence.

I just wish more people understood words. People see a pretty picture and know that it's pretty. Obviously more people need to appreciate things that aren't pretty; Leonardo da Vinci (random note: I wrote di Caprio and then had to erase it...oops) did this whole study and analysis and filled sketchbooks upon sketchbooks of drawings of ugly people. But that's a story for another day. Anyway, I wish more people read things and saw the beauty in a well crafted sentence. We live in a world where teenagers have developed a habit of reducing words to the minimum amount of letters possible and their idea of deep is liking a Facebook page with the quote, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift- that's why we call it the present." Ugh, teenagers.

I like to think I'm quotable. Having other people quote me is probably one of my favorite things ever. Especially when it's their Facebook status and everyone knows I'm funny.

... I didn't mean that. You know that right?

Happy birthday to Julia Lennon, Jack Kerouac, Edward Albee and Liza Minelli. Isn't it funny that I went on my quote rant today, the birthday of two of the world's most influential writers? And two other really awesome people? Yeah.

Today was the last day of Student Advisory Committee. Endings are sad.

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