Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Literally.

My Dear Reader,

I think that everybody should take an English usage class at one point in their lives or another. It opens your eyes to so many things that you miss, and if you have the right teacher, you realize that language is absolutely hilarious. If you pay attention to things that people say every day without thinking, you start to notice that we often say things that we think are completely reasonable, when in reality, they are inherently ridiculous.

Now, I'm not the kind of person who will judge you if you say something incorrectly; I'll just find it incredibly amusing. So, I often try to point it out with the intent that you'll laugh with me. Let's try that, shall we?

One of the funniest mistakes that people make involves the word "literally." It's a word that you use when in order to make it clear that you're not using a metaphor or exaggerating, right? And yet it's often used to mean "really" or "in effect," when an exaggeration or a metaphor is used. For example: when you're watching sports, it's not uncommon* for the announcer to say, "He's literally on fire!" But he's not on fire, not literally. Metaphorically, sure. Literally, he's just doing really well. If he was literally on fire, we would have to call the fire department and remind the poor guy to stop, drop, and roll.

Don't be upset if you do it--everyone does it. I probably do it. But instead of getting down on myself or someone else when someone misuses the word "literal," I try to imagine a situation in which it actually is literal. For example:

Person 1: "I'm sorry I'm late. I was literally stuck at the office all day."

If this were truly literal, then I could only imagine scenario in which Person 1 was trying to leave the office to make it to his/her appointment, when they are foiled by a clever and devious villain, who causes buckets and buckets of a white, sticky substance to come seeping out of the floor! Yes, our hero/ine is stuck in his/her office, quite literally, because of the Elmer's glue that is flooding the desks and cubicles, and no matter how Person 1 tries to escape, fleeing is impossible! S/he tries to wade through it, but it's too thick! S/he struggles with every ounce of energy available, but the glue is only starting to harden! But Person 1 doesn't give up, oh no. With courage and valor, our hero/ine perseveres, step by sticky step, to make it to freedom, but alas! the grueling effort wastes so much time that by the time s/he escapes, the day is gone.*

Meanwhile, the villain watches the entire episode playing on his big screen television, stroking his cat and laughing maniacally.

See? Grammar is fun! All it takes is a thoughtless mistake and a very silly imagination. I encourage you, Gentle Reader, to have as much fun with language as I do. Literally.

Regards, best wishes, and a good sense of harrowing drama,

-Cecily Jane

P. S. No one participated in my experiment! I want you to go sit in a corner and think about what you've done. Or, you can still participate. Your choice.


*Yes, I just used a double negative. BWAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

**I hope I put enough exclamation points in that for you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Community Scripture Journal

My Dear Reader,

One of my new year's resolutions was to spend more time reading The Book of Mormon, and since I recently acquired a Zune HD, I now have a device that lets me read scripture and write about it without leaving the comfort of my own covers. Sweet, right? I can be pretty lazy, so it works. I just pull up the webpage, pick a chapter at random, and if I can still keep my eyes open after, I write a personal mini-blog of my impressions. Here are two of those entries (also picked at random), to give you a taste of what goes on in my head as I read:

  • I'm glad not all of Jarom's people are stiffnecked. I wonder if this was a big problem, or if Jaron was a glass-half-empty kind of guy.
  • You need humility in order to recieve revelation. The kinds of messages that God sends to prideful people usually involve going blind or something.
  • If we've already received all of the gospel knowledge we need by the time we reach Jarom, then maybe the scriptures really are all about explaining the same, simple truths over and over again.
  • All of our misery stems from our distance from God. God doesn't cause our sorrows--He is the antidote. The closer we are to God, the easier it is to be happy. Whatever we have to sacrifice to be closer to God is well-worth it, as the blessings in return are infinite.
  • God knows when we do the right thing, and He remembers. He remembers our sufferings better than we can.
  • God designs His commandments as a grand conspiracy meant to steer us directly into happiness and away from self-destruction.
  • The work of righteousness is never done. You are never safe until you are dead.
  • Good people don't have easier lives. They just hurt other people less. The good are well-acquainted with anguish.
  • Jesus' healing power is as potent as it ever was. He touched the Jews physically to heal their bodies. Now, He touches us spiritually to heal our souls.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, and you're welcome. I know this is exactly the information that you've been craving, right? But it gets better! Oh, yes.

As an experiment, I would like to formally challenge you, Gentle Reader, to read one or both of these two chapters and add your own impressions in the form of a comment. Yup, you read that right. It can be short or long, just type whatever insights pop into your head as you read. The idea is that this will result in a community scripture journal of sorts, where we can be inspired by each other as we read the words of God. And even if you don't share the belief that The Book of Mormon is divinely inspired, I still want to hear what you think. All respectful comments are more than welcome. In fact, I dare you.

No, I quadruple dog dare you. Just click the links above, read (both chapters are less than 800 words), and write what you thought about it. Right now. All of the cool kids are doing it.

If you're stuck for something to comment about, try answering a question I recently posted on Twitter to get the creative juices flowing: both of these chapters mention long-suffering. What does long-suffering mean to you?

I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Regards, best wishes, and thoughts,

-Cecily Jane