I Wear Different Haberdash


In perpetuity is the desire of any editorial staff working for and on a literary review. It seems I spend a lot of time and printed space on what the nature of a literary review is. Now, this staff of one, this staff, myself–herein, I am we; herein, I will use I and I will use we when referring to the editorial position of, the editorializing in, and any of the other the writing within this review. I do wear many hats–I never liked this cliche. Perhaps, I wear many vests? No, hats should do. Let’s leave it alone and not insist on always avoiding cliche. I had once even written a short two page piece on how there are many truths contained in our cliches. But we could learn to tweak them: we could say that we should be careful not to throw out the puppy with the flea bath water instead of the popular cliche. We could manage to say that a comparison intended would be like comparing steak and chicken, or pears and tangerines. There is always a way to refresh what we have always said and continue to say because we live in reflex and influx daily. Herein in our review–this ours is mine–we, I, do maintain a freshness in the style, but without a dogged insistence on having to be fresh. Consistency in the matter of dogma is the hobgoblin of a little mind and here I never wish nor will be small minded when it comes to this publication. We cannot avid them entirely, and I have shown how we do not have to. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the trite: in any manner, shape or form. Why we say it I do not know. We say it because others have said it, and because others we know when growing up might have said it, we too say it, as we do with other cliches, everything trite we continue to say and to write. But any way, shape or form–what are we trying to say? A way of doing something is a manner of doing what is done. A shape is also an outline, a silhouette, perhaps, a shadow, I guess; but we are here getting away from what we are talking about, too far from what a shape implies or infers. Form, again, this word we use without much discernment. It has become a changeling in our semantics; it remains an incubus in any restricted sense, or any attempt at restricting the use and meaning of form. Pinning it down is difficult because it has been appropriated by too many for uses diverse.

Form comes from the Latin forma, which has as one of its connotative translations in English, beauty. I have noted this before in an earlier essay, where the Roman sense of beauty was not ideal in the sense perhaps employed by the Greeks. For the Romans (and even for the Greeks) “beauty” did not exist except in form. But this does not point to what form meant for either the Greeks or the Romans. I am though going to restrict this to the etymology, that is the word as it arises in its language of origin. In this case we are talking about Latin and the Romans. Forma was the carrier of beauty? Form is the existence within which is carried the essence of beauty? Thus, we have a confusion above in the disjunctive pairing of shape or form. The shape of a body being the bearing of its beauty? If this is so, then shape is to beauty what form was to beauty. If this is so, how then do we have a disjunctive pairing of shape or form unless this is pairing two words in synonymy. If this is the case, then the cliche is not only worn by use, but is redundant in its structure. This would deserve a complete reworking and not just lexical replacements. Maybe I would not want this in any essay, poem or speech. No?

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