compelling, gerund (14th
compelling, adjective (17th
Forcing, driving, or constraining.
Obtaining or bringing about by
Forcing to yield or submit;
Gathering or uniting by force;
people leave off the nam at ipsa part.
Especially political figures.
"Knowledge is power," they like to say -- and,
apparently, we like to hear.
Education holds primacy as an instrument of national
alongside weapons, only cheaper. "Knowledge is
power" fits on a bumper-sticker,
works as a sound-bite, and makes a compelling argument,
some will say.
Nam et ipsa, scientia potestas
In and of itself, knowledge is power.
-- Sir Francis Bacon
(1561-1626), Of Heresies
Compelling what, though? Much
this word doesn't really say anything. As
support for education,
one might reasonably be compelled to infer that
knowledge -- whether information-in-the-brain
or data-in-the-base -- assures power over people and
If, as expressed throughout this
memoir, 'volition' is the
most beautiful word in any language, then it will
come as no surprise to
the reader that the inflected verb-form 'compelling'
would be unwelcome
in my vocabulary. Forcing and driving, constraining
and exacting, subduing
and herding -- give me a break. However,...
As for knowledge, education does give the
student power over
something -- um, knowledge. That ought to be
principles are essential to analysis and to critical
the experiences of others will provide insights and
Marshalling and organizing concepts and ideas -- plenty
of power, there.
That may be a compelling argument, but I don't have the
power to say so.
...it is the adjectival application of
really bums me out. Here's why. In one
year during the '80s,
I received 73 rejection letters. My first
literary agent explained
that publishers "do not find [such-and-such] to be
Same for my second literary agent ("[such-and-such]
lacks a compelling
motif"). Commercial success in literature, I
am compelled to concede,
requires compelling content -- a weapon for
convincing and persuading,
thus overpowering the reader's volition.