Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wordy Wednesday: inexorable

in·ex·o·ra·ble /ɪnˈɛksərəbəl/ [in-ek-ser-uh-buhl]

1. unyielding; unalterable: inexorable truth; inexorable justice.

I like this word, though it brings a negative connotation for me. Years ago I wrote a poem about people wandering a post-apocalyptic landscape, and made use of this word. It's not a happy poem by any means. It's not exactly 'depression poetry', which is something I wrote as a teenager during periods of particularly bleak mood. I'm sure this is, or at least was, common amongst moody teens.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says the word dates from the 1550s, though it has its roots in Latin. The Latin word 'exorabilis' means 'able to be entreated', deriving originally from 'ex', meaning 'out' and 'orare', 'to pray'.

The idea behind 'inexorable' is that no matter what you do, no matter how you beg or plead, bribe or threaten, you cannot change the situation. You cannot convince the landslide to not destroy your home. You cannot buy your way out of that high-priced speeding ticket. Something is going to happen and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

So it opens up a kind of scary, depressing subject. It lends itself well to depressing poetry and post-apocalyptic stories.

I'm going to be brave and show you a piece of this high-school poem. Imagine if you will a group of people walking on through a bombed-out landscape. They've got no supplies, they've got injuries, they don't know what's out there, they don't know where to go. All they know is that here is bad; if they stay here, they'll die for sure. So they go. They encounter poisonous areas. Some of them die. They're sickened from the toxic environment, prompting some to kill others to end their suffering. The poison snow of nuclear winter, as I imagined it then, falls on them, and some more of them die. Now they're just walking on because it's habit, it's all they can do. Maybe help is over the next ridge. Maybe it isn't. But they have to press on, just in case a few of them can manage to make it.

Now the mangy travelers
Are only one or two
Their minds are blank and barren
As they plod inexorably on

We are searching for the end
We are groping for the end
We are longing for the end
Death now a welcome prospect

By way of apology for raining on your parade in this way, here's a video on 'Reasons to Be Cheerful':

...followed by Ian Dury & The Blockheads' "Reasons to Be Cheerful":

I couldn't decide on just one, so you get two. Be cheerful today!

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