Ordinary words → extraordinary thoughts
One of my favorite quotes is by Arthur Schopenhauer. In German:
Man gebrauche gewöhnliche Worte und sage ungewöhnliche Dinge.
That could be translated several ways:
Take common words and say uncommon things.
One should take usual words and say unusual things.
Use ordinary words and say extraordinary things.
Doesn’t this say it all, for us writers and storytellers?
- Whitman gives us license to let our intellect roam freely without fear of the (inevitable) contradictions we bump into along the way;
- Einstein reminds us to search for the simplicity hiding beneath all that bewildering complexity, (as Alexander the Great and Carl Friedrich Gauss do, too);
- Schopenhauer reminds us to express what we found on Whitman’s journey with words of Einsteinian simplicity.
PPS: Schopenhauer is famous but not widely read anymore. I once had a little Schopenhauer phase. And since I did the work, you shouldn’t have to: All Schopenhauer did was to translate what we would consider Buddhism or Upanishadic Hinduism into German. So now you, too, know Schopenhauer.
PPPS: I can’t help but wonder what feedback my own publisher would have given Schopenhauer apropos of … his author photo!