sonority, sound of sounds
between sounds of sounds
I may have made an amazing discovery about my favorite author.
I have long admired and enjoyed and written about the writing of Mr. Jim Harrison.
Perhaps Reed City, Michigan’s least recognized famous person.
I was aware of Mr. Harrison through my years of selling his books in a bookstore where I worked but in a ‘prophet has no honor is his home town’ mood, I never picked one up to read.
Somewhere along the line I came across a story about him.
I was attracted by the statement in the story that Mr. Harrison has once retyped a 500 page manuscript after he found he had used the same adjective twice.
While I doubted the truthfulness of the statement, it DID get my attention especially when it was pointed out that Mr. Harrison, like me, managed to operated a typewriter with just two fingers.
I picked up the book Sundog and the rest is history.
While my personal library has been slowly whittled away over the years, some 20 plus Jim Harrison books and poetry collections have followed me from Michigan to Georgia and now here in South Carolina.
I enjoy the quality of the writing often over the plot.
I enjoy the way Mr. Harrison says something for as much as what he says.
Last night I picked the Brown Dog stories off the shelf to flip through to start my weekend.
I came to the words, ineluctable sonority, in a sentence about fly fishing that stated, “His favorite fly, along with the muddler, Adams, and woolly worm, was the bitch creek nymph, a name of ineluctable sonority.“
I was pretty sure it meant that Brown Dog liked the sound.
The sound of the words alone.
But why be pretty sure in the age of the google?
I fed sonority into the google and I got this:
“the perceptibility or distinctness of speech sounds when spoken in a context in which stress, pitch, and sound duration are constant vowels possessing greater sonority than consonants.”
That made my head hurt.
It also said, “a sonorous tone or speech,”
This I was much more comfortable with.
Then I fed ineluctable into the Google and got this:
“unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.”
A tone or speech unable to be resisted.
Sorry but I cannot mention Darth Vader without saying that the Wicked Witch of the West would have had Vader (remember when Darth was his first name?) for breakfast. I can make my point but another time.
Darth Vader as I was saying, or at least his voice.
The voice being James Earl Jones.
Which is really weird when you realize Mr. Jones grew up in Brethren, Michigan, about one hour away from Reed City, Michigan.
I guess I should also point out that Mr. Harrison went to State, while Mr. Jones went to Michigan.
That was NOT my amazing discovery.
Remember how I mentioned that what first attracted me to Mr. Harrison was that story about re-typing a manuscript when he found he had used the same adjective twice.
I believe I also motioned I questioned that story.
Good story but would an author really care that much about using words, the right words?
Mark Twain famously said on his choice of words (when being paid by the word) “I never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman because I can get the same money for cop.”
Ernest Hemingway’s word choice was influenced by his years as a foreign correspondent and the newspapers had to pay PER WORD for Mr. Hemingway’s articles to be sent by cable producing Mr. Hemingway’s style of short sentences and short words.
“It was a hot day” from The Big Two Hearted River in the Nick Adams stories.
Still I was shocked and yet not shocked when I fed “ineluctable sonority” into the Google.
In less than one second, the Google came back with 250,000 results.
The top one and the ONLY ONE that used ‘ineluctable sonority’ together in a sentence was in the Brown Dog stories by Jim Harrison.
The very same sentence I read last night.
There isn’t an award or a place where I can submit this for proper recognition but BOY HOWDY let me tell you that Mr. Harrison accomplished something special.
But in the thousands of years of writing and recording the written language, a two finger typist from Reed City, Michigan, pulled off one of the amazing unknow feats of literary genius.
Mr. Harrison wrote out a thought in way no ever had before.
And Mr. Harrison wrote out a thought in way no ever has since.
I think he would be pleased.