compelling, gerund (14th century):
compelling, adjective (17th century):
Forcing, driving, or constraining.
Obtaining or bringing about by force: exacting.
Forcing to yield or submit; subduing.
Gathering or uniting by force; herding.
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 strength, ranking
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, scienta potestas est.
In and of itself, knowledge is power.
-- Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Of Heresies
Compelling what, though? Much like impressive,
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 policies, enterprises
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 enough. Learned
principles are essential to analysis and to critical thinking, studying
the experiences of others will provide insights and foster understanding.
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 'compelling' that
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 compelling." Ouch.
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.