Archive for July, 2011
“To pragmatists, the letter Z is nothing more than a phonetically symbolic glyph, a minor sign easily learned, readily assimilated, and occasionally deployed in the course of a literate life. To cynics, Z is just an S with a stick up its butt.
Well, true enough, any word worth repeating is greater than the sum of its parts; and the particular word-part Z can, from a certain perspective, appear anally wired.
On those of us neither prosaic nor jaded, however, those whom the Fates have chosen to monitor such things, Z has had an impact above and beyond its signifying function. A presence in its own right, it’s the most distant and elusive of our twenty-six linguistic atoms; a mysterious, dark figure in an otherwise fairly innocuous lineup, and the sleekest little swimmer ever to take laps in a bowl of alphabet soup.
Scarcely a day of my life has gone by when I’ve not stirred the alphabetical ant nest, yet every time I type or pen the letter Z, I still feel a secret tingle, a tiny thrill…
Z is a whip crack of a letter, a striking viper of a letter, an open jackknife ever ready to cut the cords of convention or peel the peach of lust.
A Z is slick, quick, arcane, eccentric, and always faintly sinister – although its very elegance separates it from the brutish X, that character traditionally associated with all forms of extinction. If X wields a tire iron, Z packs a laser gun. Zap! If X is Mike Hammer, Z is James Bond. If X marks the spot, Z avoids the spot, being too fluid, too cosmopolitan, to remain in one place.
In contrast to that prim, trim, self-absorbed supermodel, I, or to O, the voluptuous, orgasmic, bighearted slut, were Z a woman, she would be a femme fatale, the consonant we love to fear and fear to love.”
— Tom Robbins