“In pace requiescat!”

29 April, 2004 (03:13) | Ramblings

Well, I just got done watching Donnie Darko again.  In the movie, Drew Barrymore says that a famous linguist once said that “Cellar Door” was the most beautiful word in the english language, which leads him to his destiny of going into Grandma death’s cellar door.  From what i have researched so far, the original “linguist” to have said this is debatable.  Fact:  Tolkien wrote about it in a short essay:



“The basic pleasure in the phonetic elements of a language and in the style of their patterns, and then in a higher dimension, pleasure in the association of these word-forms with meanings, is of fundamental importance. This pleasure is quite distinct from the practical knowledge of a language, and not the same as an analytic understanding of its structure. It is simpler, deeper-rooted, and yet more immediate than the enjoyment of literature. Thought it may be allied to some of the elements in the appreciation of verse, it does not need any poets, other than the nameless artists who composed the language. It can be strongly felt in the simple contemplation of vocabulary, or even in a string of names. …Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that *cellar door* is ‘beautiful,’ especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful that, say, *sky*, and far more beautiful than *beautiful*, Well then, in Welsh, for me *cellar doors* are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant.”


Others chalk the origins up to Poe, saying that Tolkien was just commenting on what Poe said.  do a google for “cellar door beautiful” and you will find a gagillion threads about the topic, pretty much all of them inspired by donnie darko. 

i had some other things to comment on and say, but i completely lost track, it’s 5 am.  what do you expect.  anyway, watch donnie darko.  Fear, love, religion, time travel, patrick swazey involved in a kiddie porn ring, what more could you want in a movie?


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