Yesterday, Gar wrote eloquently about the paucity of thought that often goes into single-word movie, television and book titles (and blog titles?). As is the case with most of my wonderful blog-mates’ posts, I’ll need to think about that one for a while to see where I stand on the issue.
However, that particular contemplation might be especially difficult right now because I seem to be living in the land of dissection of single words. For some reason, I’ve become a serial analyzer, fixating on one word and then another, wanting to hold what looks like a single-cell concept under a crystalline magnifying glass to discover its true fractal nature.
For example, when I started to consider a topic for today’s post, I immediately wanted to tie it to the idea of Labor Day. So like the good little blogger that I am, I went to the Dept of Labor for an explanation of the holiday. Once I read that, I felt utterly unqualified to write about it; I don’t know enough about the labor movement, don’t know how I feel about unions or what happened in Wisconsin etc etc etc . . .
Frankly, “labor” to me will always first mean the work I went through to have my babies.
Okay, so labor is work is . . . what is work? What does it really mean? And so it began.
Work is a word with rich depths, isn’t it? Even the dictionary can’t define it in a single sentence. No, there are too many meanings, too many layers to this noun/verb. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore it. How is the term used in daily parlance? At its base does the verb merely mean expending energy? Or is it tied to intentional effort? Is breathing work? Not for most of us. However, it certainly is if you’ve got emphysema.
Does work need a result, a product, to truly be work? That’s what the noun would imply, wouldn’t it? What about struggling with a question that has no answer? Is the time spent thereon work? Do philosophers work when they think? Is a child working when she watches a butterfly sip perspiration from her hand? Is learning work?
Right about now, some of you might be thinking I have too much time on my hands. Or, if you’re Gar, you might be feeling the urge to chew off your arm in frustration.
But I find this stuff fascinating. Is work work if we enjoy it? What would a Puritan answer? How about a hedonist?
As a writer I “work” daily at my craft – but the result might be only a sentence. Is that work if it’s such a small bit of effort? Is it work if I write quickly and have fun doing it? Is it somehow more validly work if I suffer for my craft?
Is reading work? We know it is if it’s for school or a job. But is it work if we do it at night before we go to bed? If we study an author’s approach to story to learn more about craft, is it work? Is it work to go to a movie and analyze it according to Alex’s brilliant techniques?
Hell if I know . . .
Was it work to read this blog?
Questions for today:
What word do you find fascinating?
Happy Labor Day to you all! I’m home and looking forward to the conversation.