Monday, January 20, 2014

Might as Well Face It I'm Addicted to Words.

Those of you with children know your toddlers won’t leave the house empty handed. They have favorite toys and blankets that seem glued to them like a new appendage. Since I was a kid, I have suffered from a similar affliction that affects millions of other bibliophiles; I cannot leave the house without a book.

Next time you go to a party, you’ll spot me. I am the odd duck in the corner of the room, scanning the bookshelves for a new friend, more at home in confluence with fictional characters than the chatter of strangers and acquaintances in the room. What is wrong with me? And is there a cure?

There is a term for my condition: Abibliophobia.- n. Fear of not having reading materials.
I feel vindicated knowing there’s a name for it, but alas, there is no cure. The only treatment is having a book in my hands.

In addition to this disorder, I also suffer from logolepsy, a Greek term meaning an obsession with words. It literally means ‘to seize words.’ I love that. It’s as if words float above me and all I have to do is reach up and grab them. All writers have this condition. The decent ones anyway. We suffer over the right word, and revel when a new word adopts us.

Words claim us, and we hear learn them when the time is right for us to know. Prior to tenth grade, the word bombastic escaped me, but my best friend at the time was the epitome of bombastic; she entered a room and sparks flew.

One Look Dictionary labeled logolepsy as a Worthless Word for the day. Irony. I like that.

High Vocabulary defines it as a ‘severe fascination, making the condition sound terminal, which, as long as we remember our words,  it is.

Linguist Steve Pinker said in his TED talk,
“Language is the stuff of thought- the more we know about it, the better we understand ourselves.”  In effect, those of us who possess language skills are obsessed, whether consciously or unconsciously. It’s a communication reflex, one that is perhaps uniquely human. (The jury is still out on that given dolphin and chimpanzee modes of communication.)

Many writers have written about the reflected upon the most heartbreaking aspect of degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s in losing their words. For a writer and reader, losing one’s words is akin to starving to death.

As a logoleptic, you would think I look forward to conversing at parties. And sometimes I do. But inane chatter about the Kardashians  or The Bachelor is not a love of words. Engaging with a good book is the best conversation.

If you want to write, hone an addiction to words. Read everything. learn new words.

Happy Reading and Writing.