Nonfiction / Semi-fiction

by Neale Sourna



        I’m guilty, which can actually get me dead because I’ve been accused of quibbling about the subtle meanings of words; semantics. “That’s just semantics, Neale.” Well. “We are what we eat.” “Garbage in, garbage out.” “If I didn’t know better….” I find words to be fascinating and the blatant and especially subliminal ways people choose them and use them even more so. Many seem to think imprecision of word choice and the subtle tones behind them, as they deliver them to another’s ear is wholly inconsequential.

        Hm. About as unimportant as too million dollars? No, that’s not a typo. Or try this: you for dinner in lieu of ewe for dinner. Are the right words important to you yet?


        Curse someone out quietly, with or without expletives and you’ll stun your victim a little, sometimes a lot. Calm rage, contained hostility takes more energy for them to engage; they wonder is he really pissed, is she just playing, is my life on the line or not — I can’t tell, exactly.

        Because the accepted tone for anger and rage is loud, hysterical even.

        Love is spoken in dulcet tones, like cooing to babies and kittens, but say hostile words in dulcet, soft, warm and cooing tones and you befuddle and frighten. Leaving them stunned long enough for you to run, punch them out, or come up with a third more brilliant and creative action to your pending conflict.


        Words are a main reason I always, in general, preferred Marvel Comics over DC. Words and character. Marvel had the best “real” characters with real problems, everyday problems—that’s why Spidey and “The X-Men” rule the box office now and “Superman” does not, not quite, except with Tom Welling of “Smallville” on television, where Supe has more character, more foibles, and is, well, more human; in that screwed up and not perfect everyday although he may look it kind of human.

        Back to words. Marvel always used college grade words in their stories. Stan Lee and his gang accepted and challenged that their audience could and would crack a dictionary to understand the full meaning of their comic book stories, if they came across a complicated non-elementary level word. Stan was right, in elementary, I opened the dictionary to keep up with “The Spider-Man,” and learned a new word or two as I mentally fought his battles and felt his pain along side his alter ego “Peter Parker.”

        Now there’s two things like words similar but different: Spidey and Peter Parker. They are and are not the same.


        In saying “if I didn’t know better,” in truth, didn’t you already know for certain, but had hoped not, as you were already fairly certain or pretended not to be so cognizant?

        You made believe to yourself that you might be assuming when in fact you were quite solid in your knowing, but social convention or ego shyness discouraged your saying, “If I didn’t know better, no, wait, I do, I know better, I know that you….” Fill in the blank.


        Earlier, I said “anger” and “rage” — now tell the truth you thought I was redundant, didn’t you? I wasn’t. One can be angry and not in a rage, but one is never, I think, enraged and never angry, except, perhaps, when fear is taking its place, supplanting it and feeding your rage — and usually it is. Your fear of loss, of being used, of utter frustration, of not getting your way, or whatever. Fear is at the bottom of it. No, you say it’s not. Okay, we’ll call it something else and muddy the waters to secrete it.

        We hide deep within our denial. We call fear our righteous anger, but it’s not, it’s just fear, blatant and primal, as we try to disguise it as something more elevated and classy.

        Love is similar.

        “I only have eyes for you” is a classic song title, a classic statement of love for another and a stalker’s battle cry lament. It is one simple statement with three utterly different shades of meaning, which can place you in a music hall of fame, an earthly heaven, or behind a restraining order.

        It also states what I have when I’m enraged and hate you. I can’t take my eyes off my target victim, you. But is it because I believe I love you, and hate that you don’t love me back? Or is it because I really do hate you, because you love me and I really don’t love you in return?


        “More energy than I want to expend,” I say this quiet often, when dealing with another or a situation that is taking too much of my time and personal energy than I “can afford.” Or want to expend. My energy is like my bank account, at present, precious and limited by every day costly words that I inadvertently say; in the way we blindly drop a penny and don’t pick it up. We say them, without thought, believing them without important meaning.

        I believe, I know they aren’t just words, without meaning alone and in cahoots with the other words and context I place them in. I try often to remember that. My words are actual concepts incarnate and a barometer of what I feel, what I’ll do, or not do, and what I believe on the deepest of secret levels, and you’re no different.

        Oh, yes the son of Satan.

        A man was recently put to death at Lucasville State Prison in Ohio. He called himself a worshiper of Satan. His mom said he wasn’t and that he only said those words because he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in jail. Well, unfortunately, he was mistaken, because he did.

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Other projects Neale Sourna has written and have been published beyond PIE.

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