Sound & Sense in Cancerland

The words themselves (as sounds, I mean, sundered from their meanings) are quite lovely.

Carcinoma might be an Argentine dance, or some sort of spectacular flower.

They lay in fields of carcinoma, with cisplatin all around.

Sarcoma, melanoma — they too are beautiful-sounding, like the French word papillon, which would be beautiful even if it did not name that beautiful thing, the butterfly.  Wouldn’t matter if papillon pah pee yawn — meant hairball, or disfigurement.   The word itself would still be musical to say, as carcinoma is.

But when you look those musical syllables up….well, their beauty dissipates and a chill spreads.  Sounds are so much easier to take than meanings.

Esophagus.

Sarcophagus.

Carcinoma.

They are delightful to say, as is the name of a certain thirteenth-century Italian painter.  His works are delightful to look at too, of course, but saying his name aloud is almost as good as studying one of his altarpieces.  CimabueChee mah boo eh.

Car si noh mah.

Know what word isn’t pretty, though?

Malignancy.

Never mind that it ends well (Nancy is a nice name, after all).  Still, as a procession of sounds, it simply is not pretty.  Not like carcinoma, which (as I say) really ought to be something other than it is.  If not a dance or a flower then perhaps a lovely trance-state, induced by some rare and wonderful smell.

And then, scenting the musk of ripe mango, he sank into a beguiling carcinoma.

See what I mean?

Or, rather, hear what I mean?

At five hundred drips an hour, there is more than enough time for thoughts like these, for all the good they do.

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Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

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