Word Karma

I have a book on my shelves called the Karma of Words. The idea is that one of the last and most seductive traps keeping one from transcending or at least getting wise to worldly appearance and illusion (known in Sanskrit as maya) is a belief in the power of words to help one achieve this enlightenment. It was Eliot who said in "East Coker" that the result of such striving is that "one has only learnt to get the best of words," and that, though he himself devoted his life to language, words amount to mere "shabby equipment always deteriorating / in the general mess of imprecision of feeling."

This photo is from my desk at work. This little laughing gent is adequate counterweight to all those words -- all those words -- that we employ to "reason why." My guess he's as happy as he is because he doesn't spend any time at all with the Chicago Manual of Style. His message is simple, I think: If you want to be enlightened stop trying so hard. Point taken. I'll work on that.


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