Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Obscurantist’s Opponent

“If it didn’t make sense to you when you wrote it, then how in the world is it going to make sense to me when I read it?” the kid stood in front of me with his hands crossed on his chest glaring at me. There was no ready answer to this snappish query, but then again the rationale for the lesson that day was not to illuminate his young mind, but to simply get his brain to engage in anything but the video game on the screen in front of him. Thinking back, I realized that understanding was a lofty goal at best, and true interpretation in life comes from experience and not from words on a page. I also firmly grasped the ideal that porcine brutes all around the planet would launch themselves skyward before this youthful scholar-of-note would actually read anything past the point he encountered a word he did not understand.

A minor incident, hardly remembered until, that is, I received a phone call the other day and it was from someone wishing for me to clarify how it came to be that I, rather pompously, assumed myself of possessing adequate acumen to write this blog. Admittedly, the reason for this particular diatribe comes not from the realm of explanatory prose, but simply an exploration of the best manner to dish out as suiting response to an insult from an ill-educated and inadequately literate adversary. Yes, anger and desire for achieving the requisite retribution aside, this person is stupid.

The incident with the young man in the first paragraph occurred a few years ago when I first began posting my cerebral meanderings on the World Wide Web. The interrogator was a student of mine who had, in the course of supposedly learning Computer Technology from me, had stumbled upon my musings and wished to engage in an intellectual debate on the merits of my writing. This same young gentleman was well known for typing papers for me that when viewed on a computer screen averaged forty or fifty occurrences of red squiggly underlined words on a double spaced page. Additionally, when this particular conversation began, his assignment was to build a spreadsheet to keep statistics for the basketball team at our school (as per his personal request). Once having fathomed the extent with which he would have to comprehend math and how much work it was going to be to keep up with the numbers from a sports team, he retreated into the aforementioned dispute when I refused to allow him to change his project to the easier softer exercise in the textbook…which he refused to read.

I have since experienced much conversation on the usage of vocabulary in my prose. The aforementioned phone call had found me at a most inopportune time (I need to resist the urge to carry my cell phone to the restroom) and there was little in the way of insightful repartee available as I endeavored to focus on the biological necessities that sent me to El Baño in the first place.

Not receiving any information that appeared to support their standpoint the person interrupting the gastrointestinal process at work, the informed me that I was an “Obscurantist” and dared me to “define that m*%$!@(%$#*&!” Little did they know that a derivation of that word arrived in my e-mail inbox as a Word of the Day the day before and I, being the One True Sage of all that is alliterative had already envisaged a proper title and started a file (the one you’re reading) in order to expound on the subject of obscurantism. Originally, I felt it might the proper platform to dissect the ludicrousness, absurdity, and outright idiocy of the Republican Party. However, I am loathe to single out those who disagree with me in the political arena as I have unearthed the certainty that ludicrousness, absurdity, and outright idiocy are symptoms suffered by all who dwell in the specious sphere that concerns itself with affairs of state. (Ouch! That hurt to write!)

My literary nemesis retreated from me with what in former years would be a slamming of the receiver into the telephone base. The squabble over the correct or incorrect use of vocabulary and the reality that I have a tendency to flaunt the greater and lesser rules of grammar, as well as a total condemnation of the decorum that would seemingly befit the next Great American Author, has yet to be resolved.

As long as there are no green or red squiggly lines on the page, I am content to stumble along in the throes of my ultimate and faithful lover…words. I, being a red blooded American soul who rejoices in the free market system, purchases my grammar along with the software I use to enlighten to huddled masses, and any decorum I display is usually reserved for officers of the law when I find myself at their mercy in a traffic stop.

I do, however, take umbrage with having the tag “Obscurantist” associated with me or my writing. For those reading who find this word cumbersome to comprehend it is not defined in Dictionary.com or several of the other dictionaries this “Obscurantist” uses. Obscurantism is (Dictionary.com):
1. Opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge.
2. Deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity.

Freedictionary.com has:
1. The principles or practice of obscurants.
2. A policy of withholding information from the public.
3. a. A style in art and literature characterized by deliberate vagueness or obliqueness.
b. An example or instance of this style.

Well, it seems that my most unworthy adversary has not only insulted my command of the written and spoken English language, but he has done so with a word that until he called me one…did not exist.

The proper term, which I hope he was attempting to use, would be to call me an “Obscurant.” This is, to paraphrase researched definitions, a person who strives to prevent the increase and spread of knowledge, or one who opposes intellectual advancement and political reform. A hell of a thing to think or say to a State certified teacher! Especially one who loves words and simply wishes to share his passion for the scripted version of the Queen’s English!

…Now that my breathing has resumed a normal pace, and my heart rate is below ninety five, I will simply state that I presume to publish this blog because I damn well want to, and those who find it tedious do not have to hit the link when appears before them, and those who do not find it wearisome, thank you and please send it to a friend or loved one!


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