What a fine thing language is — boundlessly inventive, fanciful, jesting, sometimes as sharp as a spear or a shaft of light, sometimes meditative, like an afternoon in Indian-summer with the tang of ripening apples in the air, and sometimes vague, dim, suggestive, like a whisper in the night. People say it’s the most powerful tool man has made. Not so fast, not so fast! It’s more than a tool. It is a power of the human soul, encountering the mystery of itself, and other souls, the wide world around us, and the far wider world within us. Can you weave a spell? Sure you can. A little child asks for a story, and you glance up and to your right — which is where stories are located — and you say, “Once upon a time,” and a world comes into being. Only you don’t tell the child that. You say that once upon a time a girl named Alice went down a rabbit-hole, or somehow ended up on the opposite side of a looking-glass, and there you have it, or it has you.
You may say, “Well, but we do d…
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