Do you ever categorise hyperbole? Sit with superlatives and consider the weight of them on your tongue?
We’re not lucky enough here to boast elatives as well, or there’d be a further curiosity and shading of volume and intensity.
There cannot be too much nuance in the comparative: I’m seeking scales so densely populated, so finely calibrated, that they appear tooth-comb dense with gradation.
Last night I was exhausted, robbed of language by a certain snow-blindness which settles over my vocabulary when I am in any way in extremis. Seeking appropriate adjectival responses, I continually faltered, settling instead on the crunching repetition of ‘isn’t this lovely? Isn’t this the loveliest thing you’ve ever seen?’.
This was applied liberally, reaching a furious inappropriateness around the edges, when ‘lovely’ was all I could dredge up for a cabinet of prosthetic limbs, a brass corset, a trepanned skull who stared baldly out at me from 1000 BCE, and had quite possibly been capable of better verbal dexterity with a rapidly multiplying brain infection than I was, whole-skulled and sober at 8pm on a Thursday evening.
In that anguished blankness I feel entirely unsuitable, as if I have failed. Rocking slightly, drunk with the feeling that my mind is suspended in thick jelly some mere centimetres above my neglected dinner plate makes me wonder about the nature of attraction.
Is this fit of inelegance self-preservatory, some anaesthetic triggered by a subconscious aversion to the person opposite? The verbal equivalent of ‘perhaps if I stay very still, they won’t see me’? You would be hard pressed to find a person more consciously worried about offending than I am, so perhaps this is a reptilian spasm from somewhere in the cupboards of my brain. I do hope not.
So please, if you have any spare words, send them this way. I’m in need of your syllables, your long-losts, your loan words, your obsolete circa 1500s.
In need of a false vocabulary list which I can pin to the inside of my purse, rather than inside my erratic brain, so that faced with a glass case of curiosities, another human being, or the world, I can conjure from this shallow recess something more impressive, and truer, than ‘isn’t this the loveliest thing you’ve ever seen?’