Painting images with palettes of vocabulary

A Speech on the Once-Mighty Power of the Word
By Ariel E.G. Ponce ©

President of the University, Board of Directors, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Computers! That suddenly important piece of equipment that we seem to no longer be able to live without, has changed not just the way we live but the way we’ve expressed ourselves. Yes, life as we once knew it has changed! Today we brave freezing Antarctic conditions and the burning sands of the Sahara, climb oxygen-starved summits of the Himalayas, walk in strange landscapes of far-off Mars and all these while remaining within the confines of our air-conditioned rooms. With almost the speed of thought, we’ve given a whole new meaning to the word “connected,” and spared the mailman his near-masochistic trips through snow, sleet and hail to deliver our mail. Yes, life has indeed changed!

Unfortunately, this high degree of visual impact has not only affected our ability to dream, but our ability to express ourselves as well. The axiom, “a picture paints a thousand words” has not only become the byword of this “e-generation” but it has surpassed every achievable capability that words can ever express. How truly heartbreaking… Why bother with books when one can see the whole thing in actual images complete with “killer” sounds and fantastic effects to begin with? Alas, books have gone the way of the dinosaurs… extinct and fit only for museums. With every child who clicks rather than turns pages we have buried Dr. Seuss and his amazingly created creatures into the abyss and with every youth that shoots his virtual assassins to fine dust we have waylaid more than a thousand years of knowledge from that military genius Sun Tzu and his immortal Art of War.

Words have indeed lost their once lofty position as the main source of information and knowledge. Now technologies like “bluetooth”, “shareware”, “WIFI” and “infrared” have replaced dog-ears and library cards as the only ways to get information. In the meantime, the youth have lost touch with the beauty of written words. Of how poignant the love letters of Robert Browning to his beloved Elizabeth Barrett were, of how majestic the grandeur of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth was or of how tragically we lost the innocence of the Little Prince! Likened to descriptive paintings, words create colorful vistas of entertainment while nourishing the ability of the mind to imagine worlds like Burrough’s Barsoom and Pelucidar or of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. And felt fear and terror with every “nevermore” that proceedeth from the “Raven’s” beak or made us jump with every sound that reminded us of Stephen King’s nightmarish creations. We swam in the deep blue vastness of Jules Verne’s oceans while imagining futuristic possibilities penned by Asimov. Are we then seeing the end of these immortalized written words? And have we in turn traded it all in for the cold lifeless void of the web and videogames?

I firmly believe that we are now standing at the crossroads of a major literary upheaval. While some may insist on the possibilities of a future rife with a paperless agenda, the reality is this: that the written word is here to stay. We shall not at any time soon be like some Hitlerian critic and burn books unfit for an age of cybernetic realities. Nor will we forgo the warm pages of a book for the drab blinding glare of a monitor. I think not! Does this not then leave one to call to mind, in eerie recollection, Uncle Ben’s words to his nephew Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman? That “with great powers,” he states, “come great responsibilities!” Each and every one of us present in this room right now are all responsible for allowing the power of words to gain once again their rightful place in the history of man. We are all long lost brothers in the struggle to reaffirm the ability of words to fill our lives with magic and possibilities. We all believe with all that is within us that the written word is here to stay! By the simple nod from you, my dear listeners, you have affirmed the course which we have chosen to take. The word is here right now to fill our lives with joy, hope, expectancy and vision of a future shaped by the colorful palette of letters within the brilliant canvases of the mind.

Let us all join hands then, my friends and colleagues, in proclaiming to the world that the word is still very much ALIVE: moving hearts, minds and souls to a glorious future bright with infinite possibilities. ©

Thank you and good reading!

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