Thursday 13 October 2016

words do things

 "If only words were a kind of fluid that collects in the ears, if only they turned into the visible chemical equivalent of their true value, an acid, or something curative – then we might be more careful. Words do collect in us anyway. They collect in the blood, in the soul, and either transform or poison people’s lives. Bitter or thoughtless words poured into the ears of the young have blighted many lives in advance. We all know people whose unhappy lives twist on a set of words uttered to them on a certain unforgotten day at school, in childhood, or at university. 

We seem to think that words aren’t things. A bump on the head may pass away, but a cutting remark grows with the mind.  But then it is possible that we know all too well the awesome power of words - which is why we use them with such deadly and accurate cruelty." 

Ben Okri, 'Beyond Words' in A Way to be Free