Archive for the ‘Language failure’ Category

Well, there are all kinds of signs to wonder about…some less subtle than others:    There are signs of renewal, like the blooming iris, the rescued redcurrant bush bearing fruit, or the black swallowtail butterfly I saw depositing eggs on the fennel this afternoon.  There are signs of increasing biodiversity in the meadow — yesterday I saw a small metallic blue sweat bee [I think] that I know I haven’t seen here before.


There are signs of social contracts that can’t be described as “unraveling” because they were never really knit together in the first place.  I mentioned to a friend recently that the troubling thing about my relationship with those circling copters I used to complain about [and still do, but not so much in blog postings] is that I can afford to consider them inconveniences — even with a long gardening blade in my hand, I’m….uninteresting.

There are signs that cycles of beauty will continue: the garden view shifts from tulips to lilacs to peonies.  The fringetrees and viburnums scent the air.  The ninebark has once again turned into a giant pink octopus! It’s mad, it’s gay, it’s wonderful, etc..

FiddleheadsNatArboretumThere are milestones small and great, such as “1st day the kitten eats dry food voluntarily” or “20 years since my last bad breakup” or “15 years with my wife”.  I could go back a bit further, and count the years since I watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and sensed my relationship at that time was not going to work… [Did I have the words back then to say “Um, I think we both really focused on Kathleen Turner in Act I more than the plot really required…”?  No.  And besides, that’s sort of what the role of Cat is all about, isn’t it?]

From signs to symbols then: a carefully-folded flag handed to a grieving widow, a silver cup given to honor how quickly a horse can run in the mud, an expensive block of stone engraved with election promises that need not be kept.  Those are little snapshots of, oh wait, I’ve forgotten the term…metonymy?

Here, look at this bonsai.  I’m sure it stands for something.   NatArboBonsai Persistence, probably.  Better than ‘conquering’ in the long run, anyhow.

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No locks, no doors, no little boxes [that we know of], just keys to the past: KeysWithoutDoors-WaterColoredProbably also something for an office in a building long gone, equally unlockable and un-locatable.  No longer at that address, or at any other. Feh.

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Well, the words here are mine, but I’m thinking about the words belonging to other people.  I get paid to rearrange words, after all — sometimes about medicine, sometimes about music, sometimes about the lives that people have built.

“Fix, pls.”


Hold still….

Sometimes the people bringing me words would say even less than that, if they could.  That’s okay with me; this is what it boils down to anyway. 

Years of ‘fixing’ leads to having a toolbox of solutions, most of which I try to translate for the perplexed, but probably for my clients they remain the equivalent of a magic wand — the other thing people seem able to articulate is “Please do your magic”, and I think ‘If I could really do magic, I would be applying it to a rather different category of problem!’

But hey, here is where we are.  I have a file, a little virtual box of words, that need re-arranging, shaping, maybe not just a trim but swift kickstart to an avalanche that pours boulders down into a ravine, opening a new route up the mountain.  Maybe.

Provided I don’t get buried in rubble while I’m doing it.

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No, it’s not “Broccoli Ahab”, it’s “Broccoli Raab“.

Thank you.

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The state of human-spider communications is nowhere near the dubious “success” of “Donde esta mein Zimmer?”, but the results can still be adorable.  To whit:

Pleased tameetcha

Pleased tameetcha

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There are other things that have happened, dreadful things, and I don’t have anything terribly insightful to add at the moment.  Plenty of other people are trying to sort things out and patch whatever is left back together again.

But framing is important: how does something get presented? what goes before or after it? whichconnections are activated and enhanced, and which other ones are set aside? Do you want to emphasize the looking at or do you want to emphasize looking through?

Is the family drama the “point”? Is changing laws? Is admitting that humans in x concentration tend towards dysfunction going to get us anywhere useful? Training people from an early age that if you are feeling like killing someone, don’t leave yourself for last?

Just so many places not to go right now. Waaaaaay beyond me.

So some thoughts soar into the heavens, praying for balm to get from Gilead to where it is most needed, and other thoughts skitter to smaller topics that might yet be commanded, controlled, made at least somewhat satisfactory.

Do these eyeglasses hide my eyebrows?  Will there be enough glass for my prescription to fit properly? If I choose semi-rimless frames, will the lens quality be sufficiently changed that I’ll notice a difference in optical quality? Does this place take my insurance? Will I look too much like other members of my family wearing these?

Trivia. First world problems.

And I am surrounded by sleeping cats.

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Among my regular reads is Derek Lowe’s blog In the Pipeline, over at Corante.  Not only are there good discussions about science and pharmaceuticals, there are splendid asides on laboratory explosions and quirky scientists.  Today’s special dish was about an article from someone at Case Western who might have gulped down a few atoms from Ludwig Plutonium’s rarified atmosphere:

Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life


A more detailed marveling at the strangeness is here.  What did Yeats ever do to the word gyre that deserved this response?

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I spotted an ad offering “Christian mower repair” today, and couldn’t help but wonder how I was supposed to assess the faith tradition of my lawnmower.

And behold, the Lord G*d of yardwork spoke and said “Verily, let not a single uncircumcised string trimmer be among you, lest the string feed out randomly and smite thee…”?

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I think this is the gate outside the garden of the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans

I think this is the gate outside the garden of the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans

I had not realized that “loving bluntness” was in common use as description of behavior or style of speaking. I guess it’s harsher than “loving kindness”, but still has some religious echos, at least that’s what I gather from the sorts of sites where the description is used.

A phrase that is certainly more common is “unique and personal”, which doesn’t make it much less irritating to me. Part of that irritation comes from living on the border between the humanities and the sciences — science isn’t exactly or purely _im_personal, and way too much of what I’m getting from this set of students is confessional and visceral: could we all just take a few steps back and think about what you’ve been saying?

Sometimes I worry that my personal biases creep too much into my critiques of ‘creative’ student work.  But then I remember that I’m not the only person who’s giving them feedback, and if you’ve gotten to post-grad work, you ought to have the stomach for hearing other perspectives.  So then I go back to the stacks of earnest vagueries and try again to get those writers beyond just wanting to merge into their reader’s consciousness so that everyone sees and feels and values exactly the same things.  Show your readers something new, something they hadn’t thought of before — fine — but ixne on the possession thing, okay?  I am not going to stop the world and melt with you.  Boundaries, people!

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