The Prompter Room

For Wednesday, March 16, 2016:


“To write a sentence is to enter the threshold of mystery.”

Jane Hirschfeld

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

Margaret Atwood

Something in me prefers the mystery to the power.  Both statements are true in their ways, but I prefer the open-to-possibilities of the first.  That one feels more hospitable, more welcoming, more inviting, both as the one who is writing and for the reader.

At the same time I must remind myself that there can be power in mystery.  The word ‘power’ doesn’t have to mean hit-’em-over-the-head violence, of course.  In our everyday lives, there’s power in silence, in tears, in an insight.  A lot depends on how we choose to or need to define the word.

Ironically, ‘mystery’ is a little less ambiguous.  According to the thesaurus, the antonyms for ‘mystery’ are ‘known’ and ‘understanding.’  There are a few more for ‘mysterious,’ but not all that many: apparent, plain, obvious, straightforward, tangible, and – my favorite – unmysterious.

‘Power,’ on the other hand, has three definitions – the concepts of the nouns are ability and competence, physical ability and capability, and control and dominance – and thus, together, more antonyms.  Regardless which definition one chooses, though, the antonyms all have to do with being ineffective, or disability, surrender,  weakness, incompetence, yielding, and the like.

So …

When I started this post, when I wrote that first sentence, I had no idea where I was going.  After this exegesis, though, I know now why I prefer the threshold of mystery.


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