The associations our brains make with words are unique to us. In that way, seven people can take something you write seven different ways. That's the beauty of leaving it up to the reader- they make what they want of it and they will believe it because it's natural for them. Then there is simple word association- where one word makes you think of another. This can have many effects- humorous, profound and so on.There are numerous examples of this sort of thing, but I thought I would point out a couple I can think of which illustrate the way in which this happens.
The most obvious of these is Monty Python's 'Word Association Football' sketch. As you can tell from the title, it's rather humorous but some of the puns are a little dry. Below is the full text, and you can listen to it on youtube here.
Tonight's the night I shall be talking about of flu the subject of word association football. This is a technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother and one that has occupied piper the majority rule of my attention squad by the right number one two three four the last five years to the memory. It is quite remarkable baker charlie how much the miller's son this so-called while you were out word association immigrants' problems influences the manner from heaven in which we sleekit cowering timrous beasties all-American speak, the famous explorer. And the really well that is surprising partner in crime is that a lot and his wife of the lions' feeding time we may be c d e effectively quite unaware of the fact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library that we are even doing it is a far, far better thing that I do now then, now then, what's going onward christian Barnard the famous hearty part of the lettuce now praise famous mental homes for loonies like me. So on the button, my contention causing all the headaches, is that unless we take into account of Monte Cristo in our thinking George the Fifth this phenomenon the other hand we shall not be able satisfact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library againily to understand to attention when I'm talking to you and stop laughing, about human nature, man's psychological make-up some story the wife'll believe and hence the very meaning of life itselfish bastard, I'll kick him in the balls Pond Road.
You'll have to read that very, very carefully to get it all (and some of the references are British and outdated) but still, you get the picture. Some more serious examples can be found in songs; in Leonard Cohen's Light as the breeze, there is a fantastic line that goes:
And you turn in disgustWhen you're listening to it, on account of the rhyme, you hear the l of the final word and think 'lust'. But he says love instead; which is a really incredible thing to do. It fits into the greater picture of love in the song (lyrics here and an incredibly lengthy analysis of it here). It's so clever, I love that part of the song, which is a pretty cool song all round- it was covered by Billy Joel, it's that good! And speaking of BJ, in his song Zanzibar there is something similar. He sings:
from your hatred, from your love
She's waiting out in ShantytownThis one's a little more subtle, but very, very occasionally he sings an alternate version with 'her panties' instead of 'the curtains'. You get the picture. But it makes so much sense- it rhymes so well with Shantytown, you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. I was lucky enough to be at a concert where he did so- it's very rare, I never heard it on record or video until his Last Play at Shea concert- when he did, I was so happy I shouted!!
She's gonna pull the curtains down for me, for me
Finally, it's time to introduce a bit of classical literature into this post; this technique is not a new one. Roman poets were very expressive with their language, and these sorts of plays on words were so important to them. I particularly remember this in Horace's Odes, which I studied in my first year at University. In Odes 3.13, he writes of the sacrifice of goat at a spring:
... nam gelidos inficiet tibiIn English, he says ' for the offspring of the playful flock will stain your chill streams with red blood.' Here he paints an amazing picture with two adjectives: gelidos and rubro, chill and red, which evoke the opposite idea in the other. To clarify, the 'chill' of the water makes you think of the warmth of the blood, while the 'red' of the blood makes you think of the blue/clear colour of the water. That's pretty impressive when you think about it. He does it elsewhere in the Odes, but that is my favourite example.
rubro sanguine riuos,
lasciui suboles gregis.
So never underestimate the power of words! They might just help you one day!