Thursday, September 02, 2010

Inspired Words

I have just been bullied into joining the modern world by my kids and opening up a facebook account. My reluctance didn’t stem from my perpetual technophobia, but rather a suspicion (now confirmed) that I would find this social media utterly addictive. Being an innately curious person, I find it fascinating to delve into what makes people tick and I am particularly interested in the different quotes that people cite as being inspiring. I have dug into all my new found friends’ profiles to find a completely different range of quotes; from Chekhov’s “Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out”, to Einstein’s “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions” to “Life’s an ocean, sail it” (anon).

Any search engine will come up with a multitude of sites for inspirational quotes some of which are subscription based, so it appears that there is certainly a market for keeping us human beings inspired with words. But what is it about language that we find inspiring?

The poet is perhaps the master of inspiring language and as many poets will tell us, language is the ultimate power, influencing our perceptions and amending opinions, which is something politicians and the media also understand very well! Language for them is a palette, a keyboard, a block of marble, a medium from which they can create. Words are not therefore neutral, but have intentions, associations, connections. Rhythm, meter, use of metaphor etc are a powerful means to expression and to creating meaning for the reader. Our ordinary day to day language could be viewed as a stunted, stripped down and abbreviated shadow of what poetry could achieve. So when we read short quotes using extra-ordinary language, it is the difference to our everyday speech that is compelling and engaging for us and the association in our memories which makes it meaningful.

And because we all have different histories and memories we will find different quotes thought provoking, motivational and personal to us – for all sorts of different reasons. I do however struggle with some of the “inspirational” quotes my facebook friends had selected as their favourites such as Homer Simpson’s “You tried, you failed, so the lesson is, stop trying”. But I did particularly like another take on failure from the basketball player Michael Jordan “I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed”.

What's your favorite quote?

1 comment:

  1. My favourite quote is from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's famous book 'The Little Prince':

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye".