I started up the Klingon course in DuoLingo, because the reasons to do so had finally become too many to ignore:
- Different enough from Spanish and German that I won’t get them mixed up; much like the Na’vi language it’s built entirely with sounds, structures, and features from real, natural human languages but in very uncommon arrangements and dynamics, meaning it’s a fantastic way to stretch my perspectives and understanding of language.
- Be what Michael Dorn will surely remember as “a real cool guy with a nervous-making gleam in his eye” if I ever meet him
- Error-check the subtitles on Star Trek: Discovery (I caught three whole words last episode!) ((In fairness, Disco has had to add a lot of new words, and I’m not sure the course takes those into account, but still))
- Yell at my cats in a warrior-tongue that they may not understand but do respect, because real (loud) recognize real (loud)
- Two words: Love. Poetry.
The only thing I don’t love about it is the writing system, not because it’s brutal and ugly (a perfect marriage of form and function) but due to the problem I have with a great many fictional, artificial, and indeed real-world writing systems: there’s no way to easily, efficiently reproduce it with regular writing implements, resulting in all handwritten text basically requiring a secondary form-set for its characters. Any official merch or whatever would definitely use the first system, which is called pIqaD and is considered canon, but for my own purposes maybe my homies over at Omniglot or R/Neography can hook me up with something I can actually use. Maybe SOMEONE can help me find a script with honor that I can use for my Deep Space Nine/Final Fantasy Tactics crossover TTRPG supplement.
What Is A Song Or A Poem
That Speaks To You And Why?
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Oh bunches though!
I must admit that aside a brief but intense post-high-school bout of William-Blake’s-poetic-mythopœia-as-constructed-religion, I struggled to find poetry that I could really connect with until I started listening to Wonderful!, many episodes of which feature a segment called The Poetry Corner where Rachel, who actively engages and keeps up with the world of poetry, tells us about a poet worth knowing about and shares one of their works with us. Here are a couple that have stuck with me.
SO YES, okay, I just read that to my wife for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time could barely, barely finish it before breaking down into tears, like actually for real; the older I get, the easier it gets to make me cry, to the point where now a work almost has to put some effort into not doing it. ‘You could make this place beautiful’ fucking ruins me every single time, and I’m deciding right now, in real time, that it’s going to be my first tattoo; I’ll let you all know when that happens.
Like Ted Lasso I am, by nature, a believer; I live in hope, and am a fundamental optimist in my very bones, not because I am ignorant of the many, many good reasons not to be–probably more and better than there are to be!–but because it is either be this thing or surrender to the destruction of my soul, and that is simply not going to happen. I believe that if there is a thing that we call God it is love, and quite separately from that every single human heart holds an endless ocean of potential for compassion, mercy, and courage; but the physical universe around us is made of glass and knives and infinite cold and actively wants us dead, there is not a single naturally-occurring atom of kindness or faith or pity to be found in it, because that part is our job.
We could make this place beautiful. We can choose to make this place beautiful, together.
AAAAAAAND ACHIEVMENT UNLOCKED: CRIED TWICE DURING THE SAME POST, COOLCOOLCOOL.
I do not and will not have children, but my wife does, and her children are now beginning to have children, and so I am more and more child-adjacent, not and never to anything resembling a parental level but certainly enough for the above poime to wipe the goddamn floor with me.
As for songs, I find the majority of them to rely mainly on the strength of the music and performance to elevate the lyrics, which are frequently—and I say this with no judgment—not far above high-school-poetry level. Take, for example, Frank Sinatra’s My Way, which was written by Paul Anka:
Now in fairness, there are a couple of really great lines in there; for my money “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention” would be one of the crowning achievements of American lyricism if it wasn’t then forced into trying to rhyme with “without exemption”, amidst the other grade-A clunkers scattered throughout.
And while there’s no chance you don’t know this song, have a listen anyway, this time actually paying attention to the fact that the words are, for the most part, 6th-period notebook-doodles:
Incredible, right? Like kinda hard not to cry at the end, and makes you think you can face your last sunset with your head held high?? That’s because Paul Anka bought the rights to a preexisting French song and hastily wrote new lyrics that had nothing to do with the original, in a desperate bid to keep Sinatra—who had explicitly stated he wanted out of the business—raking in stupid amounts of money for all involved; without that tune, and that performance, the words simply don’t do a lot of heavy lifting.
Just to be clear, I do understand that poems and song lyrics aren’t actually the same thing and often aren’t intended to work the same way, and I’m not saying that in order to be good a song has to have a lyrical quality on par with good poetry; that music is there to do the lion’s share of the work for a reason. I’m just saying it’s in my nature to pay attention to lyrics and it’s hard not to notice when the music is covering more than its fair share of the tab at the end of the night. That said, there are some songs or entire bands whose lyrical work I find exceptionally poetic and high-quality, such as Rush:
The prophet Brandon Flowers, of The Killers:
And of course, pardon me while I genuflect, Leonard Cohen, who always considered himself primarily a poet whom people kept asking to sing for reasons he (and my wife) never quite understood:
And finally, probably my favorite individual musical artist, Andrew Bird (no lyric video was available; I might’ve made one if I’d had more time, but I included them in the caption below):
(Those where I wasn’t able to find a lyric video should at least have the lyrics available in the description on the page, apologies.)
I’m not actually a snob, I promise, I love plenty of songs that have weak lyrics supported by great music, but why would I share those here?
…aw fine, have a Thrice:
Now if you’ll excuse me I haven’t cried in like twenty minutes, so I’d better go I dunno, watch that They Lived commercial Subaru did a while back, get this face hydrated back up.