On Idiosyncratic Capitalization and Spelling

Unlike most – if not all – of my contemporaries, I maintain the old tradition of capitalizing certain words, be such words now technically regarded as so-called proper nouns, or not. In addition, I am idiosyncratic in what I do capitalize, usually for the sake of clarity, but occasionally to emphasize some philosophical point or to draw attention to some hidden meaning that lies behind some commonly used word or term.

Sometimes, I am also idiosyncratic in respect of grammar. The current and accepted rules of grammar are – or should be regarded as – only fallible guidelines, not sometimes applicable. Aeschylus, for instance, knew knowing of what we understand as grammar, let alone any rules of grammar, and to express his meaning – poetic or otherwise – he would often omit what we now call “the article”, and/or manufacture some compound word. And yet his meaning is discernible and does not depend on using some rules of grammar in order to elucidate it.

Apropos my idiosyncratic capitalization. I for instance write The State, not the State, or (even worse) the state. Why? Because The State is, in my view, a particular abstraction; an existent which has been manufactured, by human beings, and which existent, like many such manufactured “things”, has been, in its design and function, changed and which can still be changed. In addition, written The State it suggests an entity, some-thing which endures or which may endure beyond the limited lifespan of a mortal human being.

Apropos my sometimes idiosyncratic spelling. Standardization of spelling in English is a fairly recent innovation and one that, in my view, sometimes detracts from the rich diversity of the English language and our literary heritage. Thus and for example my preference for saught instead of sought; reflexion instead of reflection; and my occasional use of older somewhat obscure words such as perceiverations.

David Myatt

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