I have just begun reading Neil Gaiman’s latest book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” I treated myself to a brand new, hardback copy, which I never do, as a treat, from the Watermark Bookstore, on the other side of town where one goes to mingle or blend in with other bookaholics and scholarly types and to sip lattes within its little cafe with classic book titles as their beverage nomenclatures.
This morning, this particular passage struck me. Being fascinated by languages anyway, the description of this character’s special “magic” language, which has just been introduced on pages 42-44, caught my fancy. Does not all language basically play a role in “shaping” a life, a destiny, a question, a direction? This description is simply wonderful, full of possibilities. I wonder. I hope I have a dream like he describes. See what you think.
“She waited, but the thing said nothing, and Lettie Hempstock began to say words in a language I did not know. Sometimes she was talking, and sometimes it was more like singing, in a tongue that was nothing I had ever heard, or would ever encounter later in life. I knew the tune, though. It was a child’s song, the tune to which we sang the nursery rhyme “Girls and Boys Come Out to Play.” That was the tune, but her words were older words. I was certain of that…….
I have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme-song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke that language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used that language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that language, “Be whole,” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.”
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