December 28, 2011
WORD (s) TO THE WISE
The power of Attorney
A t t o r n e y is a powerful word. It comes from old French (via Latin)… as in à torner – to turn to someone. It’s nice to know there are people in life to whom you can turn – pillars of strength in a changing world.
You turn to someone at times of crisis – matters of life and death (and the legal system). You give away your power of ‘à torner’ to someone you trust. Your attorney defends your best interests, acting as you would if you had the ability.
Well, I’m a creative attorney, I guess. People turn to me for creative matters.
The Truth will out
T r u t h in its original, Old Saxon meaning was related to faithfulness as the quality of being true - as in being true to one’s tribe. Or, having one’s own true love. It was only later that truth took on its double-edged meaning of accuracy. i.e. Is that true? Or not?
Seems the world today is somewhat preoccupied with Truth. Transparency. Authenticity. There were some mighty untruthful deeds wrought in boardrooms and banks that led to the 2008 meltdown, and we’re hopefully the wiser for it now (check out the Matt Damon/Charles Ferguson pic ‘Inside Job’ if you want to wise up some more). So truth is more on the social mind than it’s ever been. And that’s where social media come into play. As a player in the space, I’m proud of the fact that the democratization of our media has played a role in bringing truth-telling to the foreground in enterprises large and small.
Incidentally, there are no one-word verbs you can use to say “speak the truth”. However, there is one for its opposite. To lie.
The word itself is an adrenaline rush. Pan-ic means ‘pertaining to Pan’ (like umm… atomic). Pan was the Arcadian god of nature and all things wild. With the head of a man, and the legs, ears and horns of a goat, Pan was an amoral trickster who caused contagious fear in herds, or people in lonely spots – like a writer with a deadline :-|
Pan, the boogeyman, was lionized forever by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, a less twisted version of his namesake, but a wicked and magical Pan nonetheless, one who loved to stir things up.
A pan after my own heart:-)
A g e n c y comes from the Latin verb ‘agere’ to act, set in motion, drive, lead. By definition, then, an agency is a place of action – of getting things done. It can be argued that consultancies provide advice, but agencies act.
Clients seek out agencies to secure the engagement of people with special skills to act on their behalf… powerfully, efficiently, effectively in whatever area of expertise they have and hold.
In chemical terms, an agent is any natural force or substance which produces a phenomenon (of any kind). A good agent is phenomenally productive, then; and a natural force in the scheme of things. I’m an agent of creativity. Writer/fighter/gun for hire. An ‘agent provocateur’ at times.
Be a CLIENT (if you’re so inclined)
C l i e n t comes from the Latin, clinare “to incline, bend”. The core sense of this word is about leaning on someone else for help. Clients lean on their suppliers/vendors (in the nicest way possible). So, lean on me. It makes me feel trusted, and leaves plenty of room for me to do what I do best – provide smart, well-intentioned support. In the words of the great Bill Withers: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll help you carry on. Please swallow your pride if I have things you need to borrow. We all need somebody to lean on.”
Buy, beg or borrow – I’m open to all proposals:)
(as it appears phonetically in the dictionary with that weird, tailed z thingie called an ‘ezh’)
P r e s t i g e is a word with unlikely origins. It’s French from the Latin word, praestigium – a trick or illusion. Prior to the 19th century it was a slightly derogatory term that implied deceit… as in magic or sleight-of-hand. The man who changed all that was the master of deceit, Napoleon Bonaparte. The little Emperor was referred to as a man of prestige in the sense of someone of ‘dazzling influence’. A trickster supreme, his powerful personality led to our understanding of the word ‘prestige’ today as respect, reputation or influence derived from power, wealth etc.
My greatest joy is to use words in a magical way. Prestigious? You might say. There’s a delicious kind of deceitfulness in developing a dazzling clause of copy. And, as a writer, one has the opportunity to indulge in the most delicious deceit when you’re hawking a prestigious brand (which everyone knows costs more than it’s worth).
Did I say that?
If you haven’t already, check out the 2006 movie ‘The Prestige’ about two feuding magicians, starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.
The ZEITGEIST of now
Z e i t g e i s t – noun. We could go deep on all the meanings of this rich and feisty word, but let’s just say that on any given day, Zeitgeist is the cultural, intellectual, ethical, political and spiritual mood of the times in which we live. From the German words zeit = time, and geist = spirit.
Well, right about now, it seems to me the spirit of the times is all about roly-poly, fat cheeks, plum pudding, fire and ice, pine-scented, turkey breasted, wrapping paper, and warm family feelings. I hope you agree, and will be sharing in the Xmas zeitgeist as it suffuses the season.
In 2012, I contemplate capturing the zeitgeist of a brand new year, and creating compelling content that people want to read, watch, experience… or otherwise absorb.
Write on! (Cright-on:)
Shindig – n. a lively, noisy party with dancing
Hope you have attended one (or several) shindigs this holiday season… with the prospect of more to come.
Like many words that involve carousing of one kind or another, shindig is derived from Gaelic. The word is ‘sinteag’ – to jump or leap. It’s a Scottish/Irish jump-up with Celtic music instead of reggae! Mind you, there are those who say the word shin•dig is also related to the bruises received as a result of enthusiastic but unskilled dancing.
Ouch! Santa, baby!!