Even at that age, Owen was interested in words: he read dictionaries and all manner of books and loved any sort of wordplay—anagrams, puns, palindromes. He could amuse himself all day with strings of rhymes he had discovered or created. And although I too enjoyed reading, I never loved the sport of language the way Owen did. This was because to me, language had no native intelligence of its own—it was created by man and was given meaning by man, and therefore clever writing often seemed to me little more than a Chinese puzzle box of contrivances. Writers are praised for having a facility with something man-made, something that can be changed or manipulated at will; but why is augmenting a man-made construction considered an act of brilliance? But perhaps I am not making sense here, so let me put it another way: language has no inherent secrets.
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