Daily Prompt: Bookworms

Daily Prompt: Bookworms

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOOKS.

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This WordPress Daily Prompt from last weekend (I think, eeep!) really caught my interest. Sometimes writing just to write is hard for me. But this prompt is fun.

The 10th word in the book I grabbed was “hands”. When I Googled the word for a pic, I was immediately struck by how expressive the photos and drawings were. I think I must overlook or ignore how expressive a person’s hands can be. Because seeing all those representations of hands, and the expressions I perceive in them, was shocking to me.

It shouldn’t have been, considering how central to the human experience hands are. Heck, there are whole languages spoken only with the hands; American Sign Language is only one of several. We even pride ourselves as a species on the construction of our hands as a differentiator among other species in the Animal Kingdom: opposable thumbs.

And the variety of hand-related metaphors, idioms and adages is wide: right-hand man; left-handed compliment; on the one hand; hand out; helping hand; hand up; hands down; hand me down; behind-hand; by a hands-breadth; back handed; hand of the devil; idle hands are the devil’s playground; hand-holding (coddling); right hand to heaven; stage hand; well in hand; and a plethora of others.

The point being that hands are important to human expression.

This is true even beyond literal substitution and replication of discrete words and letters by hand gestures. Although that is certainly higher-order expression, plenty of complex messages are conveyed in the abstract or representationally by the hands. Whole images and ideas can be expressed in a single gesture.

Non-verbal expressions of emotion and connection through the use of hands abound, with different meanings in different cultures. For example, laying a hand on someone’s shoulder when addressing them in conversation can have a range of meaning and significance within cultures and across cultures, running the gamut from support, care, concern, and attraction, to attention, dominance, submission, friendship, reprimand and confrontation. All of that with a single touch of the hand in a given context.

Let’s not forget the significance of hands to personal relationships, either. Greetings, expressions of emotion, invitations of various types, and a variety of signals, all delivered with the hands, all facilitate human interaction on a level different from verbal communication. A handshake, a hug, a pat on a cheek can make a person welcome, express affection or love, happiness, sorrow and belonging (sometimes all at once). Taking a person’s hand can extend a welcome, seal a transaction, convey support, or lay down a challenge. And the number and variety of hand signals to signify assent, give direction, identify affiliation with a particular group, or emphasize a point, is astonishing.

I’m amazed at how much meaning is derived from the posture in which a hand appears. Google returned an initial result of well over 2,000 distinct images. I’ve chosen just a few that ‘spoke’ to me of expression.

What do you see in these? What do you say to others with your hands, perhaps without even realizing it?

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