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Passion is no ordinary word

I frequently remark to students that our language is organic. Parts of it change, parts of it grow, parts of it die, and the process never stops.

Take, for example, the phrase "beg the question." Now, it pretty much means "raises the question," and within a generation, its previous meaning will be forgotten. To be truthful, I don't have a personal stake in the matter; I would write "raises the question" anyway.

The word "passion" also seems to be getting away from us, much to my disappointment. Now, anyone who merely has an enthusiasm for something, or a strong interest in something, is said to have a "passion" for it. This is particularly grating when the word is used in advertising.

When I think of "passion," I think of Toscanini conducting Beethoven's Ninth. I picture a young Enzo Ferrari overseeing the smallest details of the construction of his latest blood-red race car. I see Byron pacing a room late at night, waiting for just the right words to strike like lightning in his mind. I see Pollock slinging slashes of color across a canvas. I see the young Pacino, before he became a caricature. I hear Coltrane. I think of lovers who can think of nothing but each other. I think of the way the rest of the world disappears when they are together, how their love electrifies their lives.

I do not think of a passion for ice cream, or parties, or cheese. Or scrapbooking, or tomatoes, or cookbooks. Or the planet Pluto, or polka, or the post office. Or letter writing, or agriculture, or rhododendrons.

Or for using Google searches to find examples of the ridiculous.

Passion? I hope its meaning doesn't fade away, isn't watered down. Used correctly, it's a great word.

But I'm not passionate about preserving it.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
R.E.M.: "Talk About the Passion"


"Not everyone can carry the weight of the world."
May. 8th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Well then clearly you've never tasted Perry's Creme Brulee low fat ice cream.

But I hear you. I call myself a passionate gardener and a passionate reader, and I think I'm good with those two. I often say I love stuff, and I really do; but we need more words for the varying degrees and focuses and reasons for and of love.
May. 8th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
I've seen your garden, so, yeah, you're OK with that. The reading too. And Dick with his golf, eh?
May. 8th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Well let's see. He's out there right now in 40-60mph winds. Passionate isn't the first word that comes to mind...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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