That was a cheap trick and a prosy one at that.
The blankness of reading past words not grasped
is a cumulative thing, as we gloze over
tens of thousands of words, missing a sense here,
construing a reasonable one there (to save time,
imagining a likely meaning that almost fits
the context), planning to look that one up
later, having a vague notion of what a word
must mean, simply never having learned that
putting the window to is closing it, that
the depot on the page is the deepoe on the tongue,
that when she said she got into the shower
with her old man, she didn't mean her father --
Oh we pile up volumes of blankness
over the years, enough to swallow entire
subjects. The ones you can't deal with
at all, or in which you can recite the rules,
but not produce the results -- these subjects
are full of words you could never define.
So much depends on what "is" is (and if
whatever is is is right) and whether
a blowjob is sex -- and what WAS meant
by impeachment? Was he impeached when Congress
held impeachment hearings? Or would impeachment
have occurred only if the Senate had voted for it?
I prefer to think it would require
imprisoning him in a large, juicy peach.
(Probably he felt that way with Monica.)
But that's play, most fun if we understand
the toys. It's more fun to play soccer
with your big sister's favorite doll
if you know it's supposed to be a doll.
[Since we've raised the question of what "is" is,
I'd like to point out that William Jefferson
Clinton, like Alexander Pope, managed to use
the letters "is" only twice in a row. Lame.
I've put them in a sentence that makes sense
and contains the letters "is" eleven times
in a row: Here's the buildup: Isis, confused,
having just discovered that she is her own
sister-in-law (being both wife and sister to Osiris),
says to herself (get ready, here it comes!):
"Whatever Isis is, Isis is I, Sis, is Isis not?"
Removing punctuation, upper case and changing nothing else
but the positions of blank spaces between words --
blank spaces count! -- this gives us:
Whatever is is is is is is is is is is is not?]
Note: A childhood friend of mine, proud of his vocabulary, was
embarrassed one day, asked to read aloud in school, when he pronounced
the "t" in "depot" and learned for the first
time how the word he'd known as "depoe" was actually spelled.
(As a child, I heard it as "the deeple" rhymes
For more data on the effect of misunderstood words and symbols
upon literacy, intelligence and ability, check out:
Since the words most commonly misunderstood or poorly understood
are small common words like "of" and "to" (each
with about 30 distinct definitions), well may one ask what "is"
is. That leads me to Clinton because when questioned about his relationship
with Monica Lewinsky, he answered one with a double "is"
something like "That depends on what is' is."
(The question implied his affair with Monica was current -- something
like "Is it true that you had an affair with Monica Lewinski?"
to which Clinton replied, "That depends on what is' is",
meaning, apparently, that he HAD had Lewinski, but that was old
news now. Or perhaps he meant that he wasn't having an affair with
her at that moment, but was answering stupid questions and hadn't
touched Lewinski for hours.)
Alexander Pope's famous double "is" is from his "Essay
on Man": "Whatever is is right," the idea that Voltaire
skewered in Candide, though I vaguely recall that Voltaire
was rejecting Leibniz's expression of that thought, not Pope's (inspired
One could skip the Isis story and simply go with "Whatever
"is" is, "is" is "is", is "is"
not?" and extend that (to any number of repetitions by repeating
the pattern as follows (for example): Whatever "is is"
is, "is is" is "is is", is "Is is"
not?' But the I find the story of Isis more interesting. (Isis is
a sure bet. [That is, ices are a sherbet.])