Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spell Check

28 November 2014

Last week I was thanking god for dentists, and this week I want to extend my praise to editors. (I had better watch or else this attitude of gratefulness might get to be a habit!) Because bad spelling and writers do seem to go hand in hand. Jane Austen (apparently) couldn't spell, and neither could Fitzgerald, Keats, Hemingway, TS Eliot, Agatha Christie and Faulkner. The biographer of WB Yeats described his spelling as "at times a matter of wildly errant guesswork." So, you see, I am in good company.
I once wrote an undergraduate paper on the philosopher "Immanuel Can't." So, there. That tops everything. Unfortunately for me, Immanuel Could and Did very well. I rarely go out at night and look at the ink blue star-studded sky without thinking of Kant's "Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me." (Well, I'm with him on the starry skies!)   But I digress...
I should have lived in the time of Shakespeare when spelling was less an art than a preference. The
man himself spelled his own name in several different creative renditions. But that was allowed back then. Dr. Johnston still hadn't appeared on the literary horizon with his particularities about this and that spelling. I have other reasons for pouring contempt on Dr. Johnson (most especially for his pouring contempt on the Scots) but because of him we are now divided into arbitrary categories of dyslexic and Lexic. Before Johnstone the dyslexic were just thought of as creative. 

Writers by nature think outside the box. If they didn't they would have nothing to write about. But it's not the same kind of thinking outside the box that good scrabble players or crossword puzzlers employ. I am notably bad at both of these skills. Perhaps it's because I don't think of words as representational but as pictures, as whole scenerios. So I can't think of words in abstraction with inherent qualities such as orderly letters. Does that make me dyslexic? Or just a writer.
Don't be discouraged if you can't keep pace with the Dr. Johhnson's of the world. If you march to the beat of a different spelling drum, it might just be a good sign. 
Bad spellers of the world untie!

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