In the Beginning

Fairy Tale Flash: Fractured Fables Old and New

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John I, KJV

Maybe God can boil everything down to one word, but personally I never got farther than the book, which is made of words. Unless it’s a picture book with no captions. Which to me is a rather silly notion. Even a book not about words needs words.

Then there’s the infamous “One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” Right. Have you ever seen a caption for a picture that was a thousand words long? No, you haven’t, because anything that long would have turned into an article/analysis piece before it reached a thousand. One picture is not worth a thousand words, any more than a word is one one-thousandths of a picture. It’s not even apples and oranges because at least apples and oranges are both fruit. Words and pictures are separate things, even if words are good for making mental pictures and pictures can inspire words. Related, perhaps, just not interchangeable.

It wasn’t always that way, about pictures not being the same as words, I mean. At writing’s infancy pictures often literally were words. You drew a picture of a cat and a hawk and a snake in the correct order and you were writing, and so the writer and the artist were embodied in the same person.  In which case a picture might be worth one word, tops. Usually less.

For me, it was never the word nor the picture, but the book and the story. “Book” derives from an Old English/Germanic word for a charter. Paper with writing on it. Usually not —the Domesday Book notwithstanding—as long as a modern book, even if the charter, on average, was worth more than any one book. Even if the book was copied by hand by an artist/writer and cost quite a bit. Likewise, Ink and paper were both pricy. You kept things short and concise to be frugal. Regardless, over the years this charter thing became the book as we know it. And keeping things short and concise are no longer the virtues they once were.

Then again, I never was the biggest fan of virtue. I’ll take the book.