The Power to Use Words

I wake up filled with words and phrases floating in my mind, flowing from my unconscious. As the day progresses, I use up my daily ration of words; I find it more and more difficult to articulate my thoughts. Often, on very stressful days, by 3PM, I’ll run out of words. Nouns are the first to go, the ability to name people, places, and things. My conversation is littered with “thingy” and “whatsit”. I gesture a lot.

I suffer from aphasia, the “loss or impairment of the power to use words”. True aphasia usually is the result of a brain lesion. I do not know if what I experience is true aphasia, but it is certainly a romantic, if not ironic, disease for a writer to have. I do know that it is not an affectation.

Awareness of my aphasia has had two positive effects. First, I’m fascinated with words and the stories of words. Second, I’m more comfortable than many writers working with programmers (which I do) because programmers are comfortable using placeholders (foo, bar, x), symbols for values that will provided at a later time.

Yes, I have seen Memento. Several times. I would no more get a tattoo than pierce my ears (or any other part of my body). My aphasia doesn’t work like that anyway. It’s not a forgetting of concepts. It is the inability to associate a noun, or verb, or adjective with its label. This condition is detailed in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

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