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Thursday, July 23, 2009

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Titles

This blog is what I call our garden, and this post is what we will find in the garden today. Also, we won’t let any weeds in either. So with those parameters firmly set, an article can proceed forth. However and but, we didn’t quite do that here. As such, there is the outside chance we might get detained or something for stepping outside parliamentary procedure. Don’t laugh — I think that’s what eventually happened to Victor Hugo mid-treatise. Let me go back and check to see if I’m following protocol... Meanwhile, you can chill out and be an innocent bystander if anyone comes along.

You know, in my entire life I’d have to say that I’ve never come across a solitary individual who was guilty while being a bystander. The process of bystanding lends itself perfectly to innocence, and it has a rich and storied history in obeying the law. If you can convince a jury that you were in fact a bystander of some sort, they will have no recourse but to declare you a very innocent one. Lawyers don’t want you to know that precious little tidbit, but under oath they will reluctantly admit to it (providing they haven’t found any of the 412 loopholes first, of course). What? Oh, right, I was going to go check on something.

Just remember while I’m gone, something my uncle used to tell me many years ago as a lad... there’s a fine line between loitering and bystanding. Unquote. Words to live by, no doubt. So what I gather is one would cross such an line at their own peril.

Loitering always seemed to be one of those terms that was simply made up. Kind of like atrophy. What’s even weirder about atrophy is that it’s a verb. I could see it maybe as a process, a la telepathy. But ‘to atrophy’ somehow goes against the grain. I can’t say it without grimacing. So anyway, another thing about loiter is that it’s not something you say that you are or were consciously doing in the first person. “What did you do today?” To which you answer, “Oh, I went uptown and just loitered for a while.” They’d look at you like you just swallowed a Buick. “Nobody says that.” “Well, I do...” It’s the type of phraseology we’d effectively use to differentiate native speakers from those who likely studied English from a Berlitz-sponsored mime in the dark. The dichotomy would be painfully obvious.

I have nothing against those who are learning a second language, but you have to admit the situation opens itself up to myriad possibilities in the area of impractical jokes. The beautiful thing about speaking to someone in their second tongue is that they assume everything you’re saying is legitimate. It’s just like a Japanese person could come up to you and rattle off a bunch of incoherent sounds worthy of a man on fire and not too pleased about it, and you’d just accept that they were speaking the Emperor’s Japanese. So with our Anglofied example, we’re still talking real words... it’s just that there are a lot of words having no mileage for usage. You could say to them, “My prurient avocations of sort, they comprise themselves in aerospace hegemony and grandiloquent loitering.” To which they have nowhere to go with that except, “Ahh.” All the while thinking, “Boy, this language is a lot harder than I had anticipated.” But at least it will make them study harder. I get the strange sense that college professors do this in all subjects, not just languages.

I had a friend one time who reminded me to let past participles be bygones, and to this day I hold that to be a truism. And dangling modifiers be danged. I’m of the opinion that there are too many rules in the areas that are too subjective to have lots of rules. I think of them as shoulds rather than musts. For example, writing has way too many supposed rules. These rules should be prefaced with “If you want to write like everybody else, then...” Innovators were not inspired a great deal by prescribed methods of accomplishment. You can’t break new ground by remaining on the old one. Creativity is all about shunning the standard modus operandi. Spread your wings and fly unlike a condor.

To me, there’s good grammar and then there’s good grief. Put prepositions anywhere you want. Place three in a row at the end of a sentence for all I care. If you get your message across, then you’ve done your job, whether it be literarily or conceptually. Go ahead and mix metaphors. Be the last straw in a haystack that broke the camel’s back.

Remind me to get permission to plagiarize myself on that one. I’ll do that when I finally write an unauthorized autobiography. You may recognize the sources, but individual ideas can originate from multiple points.

I believe that when we read, we can gather not only ideas about what and how to form our thoughts, but also about what and how not to by branching out and diverting from what we read. The reading could’ve sparked something quite unrelated. Just because you read something doesn't mean you have to find a place in your mind that matches that thought. Find one that takes the ball and runs with it somewhere else.

OK, I’m back now... I’ve been granted furlough to meander to my heart’s content. But it didn’t hurt to check. Anyway... what did I miss? I have no planetary idea what the point of all this was — which was precisely the nonpoint. I successfully went themeless, without a net. Random, sometimes intertwined notions can be regarded in their own right. Lucky for me, too.

1 comment:

Dixie said...

Dear Rusty,
Interesting thoughts going up, down, and sideways, sending me all around. You hit upon something that made me connect and say, "Yeah!" However, the point was that we don't always have to connect with things we read, we can disconnect, or veer off in another direction. Love reading your ruminations. They allow me to float into my mind and hang around in there for awhile.

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