I‘ve pretty much had enough of politically correct nouns, terms, phrases–often borrowed from contemporary marketing, business and government. ”Horse harvesting” and “horse processing” are two of them. Aren’t any of you old enough to remember the dairy man, the greengrocer, the haberdasher, and the butcher? Have we become so precious in our speech that we now call the butcher a “product renderer”? And so, the butchering of an animal is now known as the “harvesting of his meat”–or not even so specific: ”meat harvesting”. In what way does a live, sentient being provide something which must be “harvested”? Are they products of the earth in the same way as onions and cabbage are?
I’m tired of it. Just as I’m tired of the continual hijacking of perfectly good words, like “oversight”–now trumped up as the noun form of “overseeing”, when “oversight” has always, ever meant ”an unintended omission.” True, English is a mongrel language, and it becomes more unruly by the month. Harumph…bah, humbug…and all those great auld lang syne expletives.Read More
Recently, one of my Canadian colleagues commented that an American had told her: ”If you keep spelling “Defense” with an “s” instead of a “c”, you will never be taken seriously.” Um, hello…ever heard of Canadian or British spelling? Americans, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, do tend to, um, keep to themselves…and therefore have very little knowledge of what’s going on in other countries (except as it affects them…just watch CNN for ten hours straight and you’ll see). I also encountered Americans at the Conference who thought I’d flown through a blizzard to reach Virginia…um, no, Autumn hasn’t quite started yet; everything in Canada is still green, just dropping to sleep as winter beckons. A family from Brooklyn waiting at the Dorval Airport when I was on my way to Vancouver in July, questioned why all the kiosks offered baked beans with breakfast. I nearly explained: ”Beans are a staple in the traditional Quebec breakfast,” but the wife was so vocal and so, um, prolific in her bewilderment at the offers of baked beans, that I couldn’t find a moment to interrupt to tell them anything.Read More
Four days ago, the envelope in which the bound copy of my Master’s thesis arrived in 1987, came back to me along with two drafts of the logo for my then-business card, my parents’ house having sheltered all these years what was important and discarded what was not. Oddly enough, I remembered those logos only a few weeks ago and sought them out in vain; I hadn’t thought about them in decades. So serendipitous this resurfacing of those dust-mired signifiers of a writerly destiny. The thesis, after all, was the last time (until now) that I’d written anything of size and substance, and the logos were for business cards announcing me as a credentialled editor and writer…all those years ago. Signifiers of my wish to write are returned to me as if to confirm the novel I’ve just published as real–and more than that–rendering that interminable hiatus merely that: a hiatus which was powerless to change my destiny, a space of time only, which, though seeming long and endless, remained impotent the entire time, ineffectual against the fate which would inevitably find me. A mere ‘waiting for godot’ with a better ending.
Since the symbolic, rather than consensus reality, organizes my existence and orders my mind, this is the type of event which I recognize more quickly than a ringing doorbell. When lost in the crannies of my mind, the bell can ring and ring while I summon the connectors between past and present (as now with these signifiers) and declare them valid descriptors of how physical markers of the individual journey circle until they find a new “in” and replace themselves amongst the artifacts of a lived life. It’s a sort of steam trunk of memorabilia that keeps losing items in transit and then, discovering them somewhere else along the way, stuffs them back in to the trunk to make the memory–and the life-saga–whole again. Restored to wholeness once again, I might actually hear the doorbell and answer it. Then, with all signifiers returned and accounted for, I can say, in a state of wholeness and security: I mean to go on as I’ve begun. So next time I say “I can’t talk now…I have things to do,” I don’t always mean the laundry; I mean that I have to think myself back into wholeness…and then finish the laundry and answer the doorbell.Read More