“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” -Kurt Vonnegut
This has been a guiding principal of my life since age sixteen when I first picked up Mother Night. As I grown and matured in my studies, however, I’ve taken it a step future realizing not only are we what we pretend to be, we are what we say.
The importance of language is often taken for granted. Being born into a world where, for most language formation is a given, it is easy to forget that our constructs of life, how we interpret the world, is structure through language.
I came across an article early this week by Jason Slotkin, lamenting the buzz term that “Orwellian” has become especially in light of the NSA.
Personally, I’ve heard the term used repeatedly this week on several 24 news stations with no regard on the validity of the term’s usage.
This isn’t the first time Orwell’s work and ideas has been corrupted. Apple so famously borrowed from his work 1984,which was a brilliant marketing move, though something I’m sure old George would have hated.
This is the danger with writing, once it leaves us, we have no control on how it is used or interpreted. Words are beautiful and dangerous creatures.
As an author and a responsible user of the English language, I believe that we have some ownership in how words are co-opted and used.
Words are powerful especially worlds the elicit emotions. Words can be used and manipulated by people with varying political agendas. Words can become so cliche that any power in them designates.
We are what we say. We are what we write. We are what we read. And we must be careful with it.