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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015

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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Mesopotamia

I'm trying to clean up my language--just a little. I'm not going to rush out and buy a copy of Huck Finn that replaces the word "nigger" with the word "slave" 219 times as in the new edition by New South Books coming out in February. Here I thought it was Tom Sawyer that got everybody to whitewash his fence for him. This move will simply prevent people from seeing any connection between the reality of human conditions in pre-Civil War U.S. and the results of the civil rights movement in the 60s. Does the word make me uncomfortable? You damn betcha! It should. And that's why it should be left as it is.

Of course I'm not as hung up on preserving original language in every instance. I remember a story back in the 60s when several new versions of The Bible were being released about a woman who was bemoaning the changing language. "They are going to destroy the beautiful language of the King James Version," she said. "They are removing words like 'Mesopotamia' from it." Well... Yes... Eight times in the KJV the Greek term Mesopotamia is used to refer to the upper reaches of the area between the Tigris and Euphrates. And newer versions released from the 60s through the 80s, like the Living Bible and American Standard used the more literal Aramaic term 'Aram Naharaim.' It wasn't more politically correct. It was just more literal. And I'd be hard pressed to say which term is more beautiful.

I think that lady was the same one who in defiance of the name change of the Methodist Church to the United Methodist Church back in '68 said, "I was born a Methodist. I was raised a Methodist. I will still be a Methodist long after Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth."

So on to cleaning up my own language. It's not bad as it is on the outside. It's the inner dialog that sometimes surprises me. I sometimes encounter a string of expletives in my inner dialog that shock my sensibilities, so I'm trying to get control of that stream of consciousness. Perhaps I can simply substitute a more beautiful word when my mind is yelling "Oh fuck!" How about if I just say "Mesopotamia!" It's got a nice ring to it. Might even lift my spirits a little. "Mesopotamia buddy. I'm moving as fast as I can." "Mesopotamia, that was close!" "Congress really Mesopotamiaed that one."

I'm feeling cleaner already.

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