y mother, from the flapper era, who, in my childhood during the Great Depression, spoke to her younger sisters of their "drinking and smoking and carousing around", sisters whose aside would be, "Well, who do you think you are, Lady Jane?"
She had "chums" whom she addressed as "O kid!". Later, when I reached the age, during World War II, of such sanctions, the line was,
"What do you want to do, join the Lost Generation?"
I went promptly to the dictionary and then the library, uncovering its history. O! What glamour! While there, I found Baudelaire, Hart Crane and Ezra Pound's Make it New, which for writers, I read as if it had been written for me alone, as I thought then all books had been. Pound's translation of Fenellosa's enlightening essay The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry turned pictogram to landscape in my mind, widening its scope to accommodate the view.
In my life ten years later grown to twenty-four and painting, that essay that had opened a door to me (as it must have to every artist who encountered it) into the difference between phonically sounded letters to make words and ideograms to picture a whole idea. He showed a poetic thought put into that symbol, the descendant of a pictograph; led us to its ancestor, pictures of things called drawings. An abstract concept and the history of that concept's formation from some place or thing in nature, is preserved in its ideogram which resembles its ancestor whose essence is pictured in the work of Art before the viewer's eye.
Such is the service we need in our present and coming struggle to keep alive present-day knowledge of the dangers of nuclear radiation, a culture of etymological intelligence through which past knowledge is contained in the modern tongue.
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