Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Words, Symbols, and Meanings - Some Examples

Reinterpretation of Jesus' Words

From a bumper sticker I saw today:

Almost, but not quite, painting pictures with words.

Cloudstreet  is this month's book club choice.  I couldn't find it at Loussac in Anchorage, but they had an Australian tv series that someone said was good.  I watched the six episode DVD, and as interesting as the visual experience was, there was a lot missing.  Aside from some more character development, I wanted to enjoy Winton's prose.  I'd read a previous Tim Winton novel - Dirt Music - which I enjoyed thoroughly.  So, when I found it in the library here on Bainbridge Island, I asked my daughter to check it out for me.  Here's why I like the writing.  Rather than just say, "no one in the hospital room moved for a long time"  he writes
"The woman and the daughter do not speak.  The crippled man does not stir.  The breeze comes in the window and stops the scene from turning into a painting."
Did you see the curtain move?  Or feel the breeze? Or see the painting of the three in the hospital room? 

When It Helps To Have Slow Witted Authorities

In the Foreword to an English version of Between Man and Man, philosopher Martin Buber wrote:
". . .The book appeared in Germany in 1936 - astonishingly, since it attacks the life-basis of totalitarianism.  The fact that it could be published with impunity is certainly to be explained from its not having been understood by the appropriate authorities."

Diaper Fashion

I did complain about the vapidity of baby clothes last year and even found an Ai Weiwei t-shirt for Z online.   But when I changed her diapers this afternoon, I looked a little more carefully at the pattern.  This is definitely not vapid, but skulls and crossbones?  OK, why not?


  1. Commentary lite, Steve? (It becomes a certain part of you.) Love the word-image and 'liking' the value of reading literature. Public policy prof? Okay, but I wonder if you might just take up a bit of writing yourself.

    As to the skull and cross-bones... quite popular in medieval iconography over here, as why live without pondering death, our most precious ticket to eternity? At least that's what most people around these parts used to teach and believe -- religion and all that. Have to go a bit further east to Slavic-language countries to find that undiminished now-a-days.

    All-in-all, interesting choice for baby-pants!

  2. Jacob -'Commentary lite' - probably something I should do more often. Playing with Z was much more important than blogging, but these were 'postlets' that seemed to need not much commentary on my part.

    'take up a bit of writing' - wounded to the quick! - that's what I thought I was doing every day posting here. But I understand that 'real' writing is published in journals and books. (I trust you read this as my playful, mock alarm.)

    And finally, thanks for the background on the skull and cross-bones.


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