Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Word 'Just'

       A couple years ago, I read a novel called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The book is written as a letter, from an old man to his son. It was a very unique, enjoyable story.
       There is one part where the father is telling his son a story about a young couple walking down the street. The man shakes the branch of a wet tree, getting water on his companion. The two laugh and walk off. The father ends the narrative with,

       "In writing this, I notice the care it costs me not to use certain words more than I ought to. I am thinking about the word "just". I almost wish I could have written that the sun just shone and the tree just glistened and the water just poured out of it and the girl just laughed - when it's used that way it does indicate a stress on the word that follows it, and also a particular pitch of the voice. People talk that way when they want to call attention to a thing existing in excess of itself, so to speak, a sort of purity or lavishness, at any rate something ordinary in kind but exceptional degree. So it seems to me at the moment. There is something real signified by that word "just" that proper language won't acknowledge. It's a little like the German ge-. I regret that I must deprive myself to it. It takes half the point out of telling the story."

       Oh, I love when people put my thoughts into words.


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