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Wednesday
Feb202019

Which is to say 

What does it say about us that we use such language? And what not, and everything like that, whatever that may mean, you know what I mean? which is to say and so on?

Which is to say may be the worst of them all. Which is to say is so full of itself it says the same thing twice. The other phrases, expressions if you like, are simply lazy; at best they seek the participation of the other, the listener. A phrase such as and what not or and everything like that mean can be heard as an invitation, especially when framed thoughtfully and in a certain tone of voice. You know what I mean, for instance, pathethic as it may be, is a direct interrogative.

Which is to say is another creature altogether--a pedant at best, a poseur at second best, a spoiled wayward child with an English degree who feels the need to correct the correction. I actually heard a person say, a person who I thought knew better, use the phrase twice in back-to-back sentences so that it seemed that the sum of what he was saying was, which is to say

There's no invitation in, which is to say: which is to say is all one-sided. Neither is it used at the end of an expression as the others all are. It's an exclusive and elitist bore, standing before us with its self-importance, lecturing us, in love with the sound of its own voice 

When I used a naughty word as a child my grandmother would threaten to wash my mouth out with soap. She never did wash my mouth out with soap, though when I became old enough to first start experimenting with cigarettes, about age 12, I'd wash my own mouth out with soap to disguise the smell of the cigarette smoke I'd inhaled, thinking my grandmother knew a thing or two about using soap to change behavior. People who use the phrase, which is to say should have their mouths washed out with soap. If they actually like the taste of it I'd grant them permission to keep using the phrase whenever they'd like, though not in my presence.

I'm not sure what the use of any of these expressions say about the language we use, other than they seem to be used more frequently now than every before by well-educated people of high moral character. I have no more to say about them, having said all I can say, but fearing I'll hear them said the rest of my life.

Monday
Feb182019

Mallarme

Mallarme: the only way the sacred can protect itself is to wrap itself in mystery.

Mallarme, a man of whom it can't be imagined ever saying, what not or, everything like that.

Storefront, Marks, Mississippi, June 2017. Photo by author.

Saturday
Feb162019

Which is to say, you know what I mean?

In yesterday's little mini-rant ('And what not, and everything like that') I wrote of certain phrases that people often use when speaking which displease me, as I can find no reason for them to ever be spoken. Such phrases, or expressions, which always occur at the end of an expression rather than at the beginning, add nothing to the conversation; rather they detract by their meaninglessness.

Yesterday I listed four of these phrases, including the aforementioned and what not and and everything like that, plus, and what have you and, and whatever it may be.

I want to make clear that I hold nothing against people who use these phrases, other than wishing they wouldn't. Some of these people are among my dearest relatives and closest friends. These are good people, really good people, the kind of people who look you in the eye when you're talking with them and who do what they tell you they're going to do, people who keep their commitments once they've made them. The people who use these phrases will do almost anything for you, up to and including giving you the shirt off their backs. The people who use these expressions are most often well-meaning, kind, giving souls, the kind of people who fall into small bad habits innocently, whose bad habits most likely cause no one but someone like me any kind of problem or discomfort.

There are, however, two other phrases, expressions that are less innocent though no less offensive, more offensive in fact, for reasons I'll explain later, than the phrases noted above. Each follows the pattern of the other four: each always arrives at the end of an uttered expression; each is uttered so repetively by the speaker as to be regarded by the listener as habitual; each adds nothing to the utterance, so that the nothing it adds, in fact, detracts from the something that's just been said.

The two other phrases are:

1) Which is to say 

2)  You know what I mean?

(To be continued)

 

"What is a throne? It's a chair with some velvet", Napoleon is reported to have said. It's also said that Napoleon never opened his mail until two weeks after its arrival, believing that if a message was truly urgent it would get to him somehow. 

Thursday
Feb142019

And what not, and everything like that

Consider the phrases,

1) and what not

2) and everything like that

3) and what have you

and

4) whatever it may be,

The next time I hear someone utter any one of these phrases I'm going to say something about it, I'm going to ask what they mean when they say and what not, or one of the other three phrases, and why they always wait until the end of whatever they're saying to say and everything like that, what such utterances mean to them in the context of what they've already said; and then I'm going to actually listen to what they have to say.

 

'Anti-what not' protective gear developed by author, and everything like that.

Sunday
Feb102019

The sound of tires

I woke up this morning to the news that there's a bird that's half male, half female. The bird, a cardinal, was reportedly seen in a backyard in Erie, Pennsylvania. Scientists say it may be a so-called gynandromorph, a creature with both male and female traits, a sexual split that's also been reported among reptiles, butterflies and crustaceans. 

Robert Ryman died. I always loved his paintings, every one of them them that I saw, and I don't know why I loved them, which may have been the point. I had the good fortunate to know a lovely Swedish woman, a doctor who chain-smoked cigarettes and was a serious collector of contemporary art, who said it was her goal to own a Ryman. We lost touch, as she lived in Sweden and I lived in California: I don't know if she ever acquired a Ryman, though I heard the other day that she'd died a few years ago. From that point on whenever I see a painting by Robert Ryman or even see his name, I think of her with the thought that maybe she had acquired a Ryman and it was the last thing she saw before she died.

I once enjoyed phone discussions with my friend MH about the last thing we'd see. Neither of us could come up with anything tangible, at least I can't remember anything tangible, but the thought kept us amused for a few minutes before we'd move on to other subjects. I think now that it was our way of talking about death, but in a kind of code that we developed to preserve death's mystery.

When living in France I learned a little about how to think French: the French think as much by thinking about what something is not as they do by thinking about what something is. It's a really neat trick which I've tried to actualize in my thinking ever since

I'm applying French thinking to the road trip I'm considering taking across the US: is the road trip more about the road (the places we'll go, the people we'll meet) or about the car itself? At the moment I'm thinking it's more about the car--the steering wheel, the front windshield, the rear-view mirrors, the gas gauge--than it is about the countryside; that the car itself is the environment. And the sound of the tires, the sound tires make on asphalt at 65mph, is also a real consideration. 

Ibuprofen pills rolling across the kitchen counter, February 10, 2019. Photo by author.