What’s that word on the page?

If you stare at a single word for long enough, the word will morph into a jumble of letters that are somehow mashed together like random books on a bookshelf arranged in no particular order at all. You just know where they are and after a while you  just think, “Why did I put The Great Gatsby next to Pride and Prejudice?”. Theoretically speaking, the jumble of letters would be classified as a word. Speaking like a human, they would be classified as the death of brain cells.

Stare at this word, an everyday word, for 10 seconds:


Busy. Just a word at random. Maybe it’s just me but if I look at it for long enough it starts to look like bus-y or bu-sy or b-usy. If this is you out there then here is an air hi-five just for you. Yes you.

The brain is a strange thing. Did you hear about that guy who suddenly became a maths genius after he got hit on the head in just the right spot? We haven’t really uncovered the mystery yet and perhaps we never will. But don’t let a case like ‘strange words’ become your life, despite your fetish for Sherlock Holmes. In this situation, perhaps your brain is just re-calculating like a GPS, despite how annoying it is, and eventually it will click and you will hear the “You have reached your destination” of every tourist’s heaven. Unless the software is outdated.

As you mature, you think more deeply and perhaps this glitch is a reference to that. When you were younger, ‘busy’ would just be ‘busy’. You would sound it out and have the meaning drilled into your brain. But as you grew you began to see anomalies, metaphors, similes, weird scientist theories… You began to develop an inquiring mind, you started to think. Not that you weren’t thinking before but things developed a second meaning (If you’ve read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, it’s in the same way that you get a different meaning from the novella when you read it when you’re little and when you read it when you’re older).

So dear genius, think of yourself as cheese. As it matures it gets more appealing. You will never know if the outside coating of the Camembert is mould, it depends on the context. But why trouble with contemplating whether cheese is mould when you could be enjoying the taste? Enjoy words, just as they are. Analyse them if you want, but remember that not everyone is Matt Preston.

Matt Preston is a food critic. Maybe not a cheese critic, but a food critic.


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