the “glib and oily art”

In his play, King Lear, Shakespeare noted the “glib and oily art, to speak and purpose not.”  Words are usually trotted out….yes, glibly…and that is fine.  Words are the currency of any particular culture.  If we had to sit down and ponder re the meaning of what we were about to say, then our culture would quickly disintegrate into a morass of self-contemplation, “navel gazing.”  But the problem is that often people never into their entire life get beyond “the glib speech of habit, well-worn words and ready phrases that build comfortable walls against the wilderness.”   (Conrad Aiken).  We are often verbal auto-matons, offering the appropriate “words and phrases” for the various circumstances in our life.  We then fail to ever offer an authentic word, a word spoken from the heart.  We fail to acknowledge the wisdom of Shakespeare in the concluding lines of King Lear, “The weight of this sad time we must obey, speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”  It is sad to realize that many people…..most people…never speak an authentic “feeling” word.  Even more so it is so sad to realize that our culture is set up to prevent authenticity, it depends on people trotting out those “well worn words and ready phrases.”  We are fortunate to live in a culture where there is some freedom to individual expression, in spite of the weight of socio-economic pressure, in spite of social regimentation.

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