May 11, 2012


Samuel Beckett, the author of “Waiting for Godot,” felt that language was too confining to express thought: 

          “It is to be hoped the time will come, thank God, in some circles it already has, when language is best used when it is most efficiently abused… To drill one hole after another into it until that which lurks behind, be it something or nothing, starts seeping through—I cannot imagine a higher goal for today’s writers. “(“A Great Consolation,” Christopher Tayler, “Harper’s” May 2012)   


I’m happy to discover I’m not alone in feeling constrained by language. Like frizzy hair, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with it. Colons, semi-colons, commas and periods give a semblance of order, acting like traffic cops to direct the flow of thoughts, but they also impede or slow it down.

Of course, modesty should ask if the words are at fault or the writer. Given their number, I am acquainted with so few of them. Perhaps the ones I’m grasping for exist beyond the edges of my scholarship. There must be million if not billions of words unmet. While reading the Becket article, I came across three. Perhaps others of you are unacquainted with them.  If so, allow me to provide an introduction:

          Desiderata – something lacking or desired

          Costive – constipated, slow or reluctant in speech

          Refulgent – shinning, gloriously bright

These new worlds may not solve my problem with language’s limitation, but at least they’re three new tools in my arsenal.