by Kleitia Vaso

Lately I’ve noticed the recurrence of excessively intense words making their grand entrance in Facebook statuses and comments. Any variation on “love, love you, love that” phrases like “the magic of the foliage,” words like “adore” and “miracle,” “stunning” and “gorgeous” are used indiscriminately and unsparingly whether they refer to the beauty of a person or the fall leaves. The description that most recently made me shudder had something to do with the “magical quality of fall” which, as implied by the commentator, could be solely appreciated by those capable of “adoring” something. Certainly, this emotional elite included the writer, the addressee and an exclusive group of their closest friends. I can’t recall the exact phrasing because I never returned to check. My initial reaction included disproportionate doses of revulsion. The possibility exists that the unrestrained expression of feelings makes me slightly uneasy as a result of some unknown or unrecognized personal flaw. Yet, the nearly physical reaction – an instinctual turning away from the screen and a cold shiver – to the flowery and exaggerated language also indicates the presence of something unpleasant, artificial in the text.

I am starting to believe that the intensity of words is inversely proportional to the depth of feeling. The more “magical” the description of a falling leaf caressing one’s hair, the greater the suspicion regarding the extent of emotion, the capacity to be moved. The louder the vocal expression of any random sensation – praising the beauty of a tree, the sky, or an obviously unflattering picture of a friend – the greater the question mark on the unexpressed portion of things. To the outwardly expressed, I usually assign the nearly opposite meaning of what it states. In most cases, not all. The more someone “adores” something which at most could merit a half-hearted “like,” the more I doubt the ability to love, let alone adore. When someone is described as “love itself” or the “face of love” or anything approximating it, it seems clear that the speaker/writer has probably never felt the emotion. Thus, the cheapened word and consequently, the phenomenon, exhibits its decreased value and weight in today’s pragmatic world which, while reaping the benefits of any instant, activity, person, refuses to accept itself as such.

The superlative scale of terms that we employ to express a mediocre level of emotion is part of a senseless race with the suspicious aim of winning an utterly subjective sensitivity prize. The more efficient we grow, the more we want to prove ourselves more sensitive than others, more in tune to the vibrations of the world, leaves and people alike. In the meantime, personal interests and benefits are never bypassed for another’s well-being, not to mention the word happiness, another’s or even one’s own. Chasing such an elusive state could result in wasted time and time equals money and so on. Love, adoration, even the sublime kind sometimes – oh no!  –  a mostly cringe-worthy description anyway as its inherent gravity reserves it for the greatest and most unsayable experiences. The daily usage of the word should be forbidden if only for the emotional, physical and geographical depths and heights traveled by the bold Romantic poets in order to understand it and thus, use it.

By understanding through life that the deepest experiences, thoughts, feelings remain inexpressible, I have grown increasingly convinced that words always compensate for a lack of something. Perhaps powerful emotions may be “recollected in tranquility” to quote Wordsworth but at the moment of experiencing them, the most one can do is utter sounds of pleasure or pain or stammer and stutter. Any attempt at summarizing a powerfully emotional experience results in phrases and words which sound entirely false and idiotic the moment they leave our lips, pens, or keyboards, as most often happens. No sufficient word exists to express love, adoration, the magic of something. The excess light or lack in one’s eyes or tears come infinitely closer.

The Taiwanese film “Assassin” comes to mind, a beautifully visual movie but with a convoluted plot, a probable effect of its lack of dialogue. At moments, the director’ emphasis on creating the effect of a series of moving paintings created such a slow pace that J. and I almost fell asleep several times while watching it. We had to turn on the lights to reach its end, which we did, with a little patience and good will despite only a partial understanding of the plot. The element that rendered the plot nearly impenetrable was its noticeable absence of words; the heroine, Shi Qu, only spoke a few sentences, if that, for the two-hour duration of the film. Any emotion or reaction was expressed through action. For instance, each time the greatly skilled assassin Shi Qu defeated the opponent but wanted to spare his/her life, she simply turned away and left, utterly silent but undoubtedly victorious.

by Kleitia Vaso