Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Power Of Words

Sorry for the short absence, amongst other things I lost my internet connection for 5 days. I can do a bit of web surfing at work, but whenever I'm home I normally have the laptop fired up while I'm watching the tv. Without it, oh em gee. Cut off! Is this what being on Survivor feels like? Without the poor hygiene, rice rations and scheming. I'd like an immunity necklace though. Tribal accessories, so hot right now. Sorry, where was I?

I spent some time over the past couple of days thinking about the power of words. Words can hurt and heal. Inspire and disempower.

Peter and I already have a whole list of cute names for each other. Yes, we are those people. A harsh word at work can make for a bad day. Recently Peter and I were walking down the street holding hands (as we usually do) when an older lady came up to us and told us we were a sweet couple, making our day with just a couple of kind words. (Mind you we've also had at least 3 occasions when Mumblers, as we've come to label them, walk past and mumble chicken shit insults at us as they pass. Here's a heads up Mumblers, enunciate.)

At this point, lets have some musical relief before passing on:

What are words worth? Indeed.

I'm also currently reading (and enjoying) Embassytown by China Miéville, a novel that places language and communication at the very centre of the story. I find Miéville one of the most incredibly creative writers working in science fiction today, and this book about Language uses language in a creative way to examine the dramatic and unexpected effects that communication can have. There is a fantastic review in The Guardian by science fiction heavy hitter Ursula K. Le Guin

(And if you have a moment, check out Miéville's tumblr too, where he posts all sorts of interesting stuff. Then spend a moment contemplating the fact that he's also the humpiest piece of sex on legs working in science fiction today.)

Every week I download podcasts and vodcasts (speaking of words, because language is an organic creature we sometimes make them up!) by the guys at Monocle Magazine. This week there was a fantastic vodcast called Class Acts about some interesting goings on in Bogotá, Columbia.

The second story on the vodcast really affected me, and it was about an organisation whose name means The Power of Words. Don José Alberto Gutierrez is a rubbish truck driver, who lives with his wife in a disadvantaged suburb of Bogotá. Over the years he would rescue books that he found in the rubbish, until he amassed a collection of over 10,000 volumes. Along the way he used rescued books to educate himself, and now the ground floor of his house has become a community library

Watch the vodcast and have a look for the website of La Fuerza de la Palabras because they explain the amazing feat this man has achieved, and his noble aims to bring literacy, culture and advancement to his (and other) communities. [Note: click the little language flag widgets on the right hand side of their web page for an English Translation.] Watch it and let your cold dead heart melt a little/lot.

Then read a good book, or say a kind word to someone.


Laura said...


A good reminder to follow mother's advice; if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Have a word-worthy day!

The Other Andrew said...

Thanks Laura, a timely reminder of good advice!

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