Etymological Fallacy

The group most at risk for falling prey to the etymological fallacy are poets. It’s easy to see why. Poetry begins with an a priori fallacy, the proposition that words have magical powers.

Hey, I enjoy chanting around a fire and spinning in circles as much as the next freak. But the things we chant, albethey magical, are not words. Words are those things we use in everyday life to navigate our personal narratives, to build shared-realities, and to negotiate the concrete.

They’re not magic, they’re a tool. A tool we picked or happened across. A tool that allows us to explore the unknown, to catch a glimpse of the magical, but not magic in themselves.

If you rely on your audience knowing the ancient magical ember at the root of a word, we’re gonna have a bad time.

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Franklyn Monk

Poet. Geek. Science fiction aficionado. General freak.
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