Sunday, August 10, 2008

Verb Or No Verb, Let's Get Going

The word 'derail', I just discovered, comes from the French word derailler which means to throw off the track. Apparently it has been in use since 1850 or thereabouts. It's a verb meaning 'to cause to run off the rails' or 'to obstruct the progress of' or 'to frustrate' or 'to upset the stability or composure of (insert your own word/s here).
I'm thinking this word had to wait for trains to become popular modes of transportation before we could speak of our frustration over having been run off of our rails to the point that we lost our composure and became frustrated because our progress was obstructed.
Once that gold spike was hammered into the rails somewhere in Utah and the transcontinental railroad was completed, we were finally able to give voice to our human predicament of becoming without rails.
The word 'derail' is a verb. When we are thrown off track, we are in action.
If we are in action at the time of our having been run or thrown off the rails, we can use that energy to get back on the rails and get going again.
And then we can create a new word and a new reality. Let's start with 'rerail' and work from there.
Let me know what you think.
And then, let's 'rerail' ourselves and get going again.


Miss Crabby Pants said...

How are rails different from ruts? Both were laid down by others before us, both limit movement to linear, prescribed paths. Is rerailing different from getting back on track?

I am thinking of another French word, or the same one in a different context: derailleur. As in a type of bicycle gear mechanism. When our chain becomes derailed, no motion is possible forward, backward, on whatever path we're on. Only when the chain is restored to its place in the whole and proper tension is re-established can we pedal our bikes again or, as you say, get going.

And we're still left with the choice of where to go, how to get there, and when to rest and we're still left with the hard work of pedaling. But the work of motion can't begin until the cogs and chains are working properly, together

MaryWalkerBaron said...

Miss crabby pants makes an excellent point that this metaphor is subject to various interpretations. By using the metaphor built on the railroad or bicycle theme, there are definitely negative aspects which speak of limitations. However, I originally built the metaphor on a part of speech (a verb) which speaks of action and possibility.
Thanks to 'mcp' for pointing out the limitations of the metaphor and for having the courageous energy necessary for debate.

Miss Crabby Pants said...

It was not my intention, actually, to point out limitations nor to debate. I was responding to your invitation to "let me know what you think" in the spirit of showing how your metaphor sparked a different one for me. I was hoping to expand on your idea, however tangentially, not to misinterpret or be critical. Your words almost always get my brain working in new ways, and my thoughts turning in new directions which is a wonderful gift.

MaryWalkerBaron said...

In response to miss crabby pants -- no criticism taken. Your comments are always thought provoking and help guide witsendmagazine and this writer.

Anonymous said...

I'm for rerailing - our country is in dire need of it.