Tuesday, September 14, 2010

As you were

I don’t know why those who swoon over “Es muss sein,” sneer at “It is what it is.” The latter is just Beethoven at the kitchen table, wiping strudel off his chin.

What is done is done. Shakespeare wrote that. And just in case we were confused – saying, wait, wait, I don’t get it -- he clarified with, What is done cannot be undone.

So let it be known right now, I’m slapping my name on, What is can’t be isn’t, and, That which was isn't wasn’t.

They’re all mean verbs, anyway; ones that scowl, crack a whip, and hold kangaroo court. They admit no reason because they are the reason, and allow for no extenuating circumstances.

I prefer the pillowy verbs, the helping verbs -- the patient ones that need a friend. The coulds and woulds. They’re accommodating, and, as far as possible, allow going backwards and forwards in time. They only ask for a little direction, and don't mind if they have to wait awhile – your choice, your death, or eternity … whichever comes first.


  1. You're deep, you are.
    Milan Kundera wrote all about Beethoven's what's done is done, and it made his New Yorker literary career.
    I hope you're next on that path.
    Now, if someone could point me to the exact piece of music...
    btw, you're much funnier than Kundera.

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  3. As if I wasn't confused enough ~ kangaroos play tennis? When they aren't practising law? Tell me it is can't be isn't so.

  4. I like the idea of "pillowy, helping" verbs.

  5. "What is can’t be isn’t, and, That which was isn't wasn’t"

    so can what your trying to say be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning?

    or am I missing something?

  6. Language and philosophy meet here. Gotta love it. And I like the associations you make with kinds of verbs. There really are differences.
    For me, they might begin with "do" versus "be," decision and action vs. existing, humans consuming and footprinting versus plants sitting there, taking it all in, thinking. Maybe "be" compared to "do"--any "do--is a little like the humility you hear in your "pillowy" helping verbs (even though "be" converts to "is").

    Maybe you should block or delete me on topics like this . . .

  7. Ooo, Dez, thank you. And here you go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtfH1HnLhig

    Shell, you do be funny.

    Jean, I also attribute personalities to numbers.

    PA, did Vic proofread this for you. (Nothing says is like teeth, until they isn't.)

    Banjo, first you do, then you is.

  8. I hate it when I'm confounded by intelligent word strings, a picture always does it for me.


  9. And I hate it/love it when I have to diagram sentences to figure 'em out. "What is can’t be isn’t" - excellent. But it took awhile to digest it. I think I got overwhelmed with the verbs. Pillowy ones would soften the blow.

    You are what you are, Karin!

  10. I always reserve "It is what it is" for moments when I have absolutely nothing else to say. It works. I always get meaningful nods and I look like the person closest to Nervana in the room (that doesn't mean I have unsophistocated friends, does it?). I'll see if "What is can't be isn't" has the same effect.

  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys5qLGewNCU

  12. My head is spinning. So many verbs. PA had me running for a dictionary--simulacrum, univocity, really? I thought I had a good relationship with words, but since I can't unthink a thought,I guess I do.

  13. i have a problem with coulds and woulds. Seem presents more problems.

  14. AH, I do, too (attribute personalities to numbers)

  15. My brain is too tired to keep up with these mind-bending linguistic considerations. But sentences like this perk me right up:

    "The latter is just Beethoven at the kitchen table, wiping strudel off his chin."

    I have to parrot your comment to Shell, you do be funny.

  16. Paula, wish I had found that first. I've often thought, if I could or would get a tat, what it would be. Not this one, but what stamp would I like for life?

    et tu, Brenda.

    Quid, it just proves you and your friends like strudel.

    Bayside, PA had me at simulacrum.

    Kenny Mac, you definitely present coulds and woulds, and many shoulds and should nots.

    Oh Jean, we must compare. Numbers with cool personalities are 4, 7, 8, and 9. 6 is a bedwetter.

    Susan, let's have strudel.

  17. A stamp for life:
    Qi Papers

    There are others but she's already out of them. Or you can wait and just get a T-shirt when they become available.

  18. This would be too complicated to find a way out of, if only could is compared to the future.

    BTW: And #5? Just curious.

  19. Paula: I love that you can conjure up these websites so apropos to the discussion.

  20. This is your second profound topic in a row. First, dreams and how we cope with "what is" - acceptance, if you will. Today, "what is" itself is on the board.

    When Moses went up to Mt. Sinai and received the ten commandments, he asked God his name, "Who shall I tell them gave me these?" and God said, "I am what I am." God was saying, I think, "Just accept this, accept what is, and trust in what is." In recent years I've come to believe that "what is" is what the Higher Power is. We don't understand "what is," we just need to accept it. Accepting "what is" and dealing with it on its terms, not on our own terms, is important.

    Yes, these verbs are harsh. They do crack a whip. As you say "They are the reason." That's profound. Because "what is" is everything, literally. "What is" is what we have been given The extenuating circumstances, the pillows in between, the fudging, are what get us into trouble.

    * * *

    "It is what it is." This phrase grates on me, because it's not used in a profound way, as the writer of Exodus, Shakespeare, and Beethoven meant what they said. It's been used in my experience as an excuse for someone dropping the ball and, instead of taking responsibility for it, "It is what it is" says, "Fuck you. Deal with it." I'm sure there are many who use it in a profound way, but I've heard it as the voice of excuses. When I hear it used in the other way, I'll be the first to cheer.

  21. Jean and AH: I also attribute personalities to numbers and even letters. Do you ever attribute colors to them? I attribute colors to numbers, but even more to the names of the days of the week.

    WV: colortal. This continues to support my theory that the WVs are influenced by the very words we type.

  22. I can't keep up with you Humanities graduates, but I love the photo - is it your lane, Karin, or is it Christmas Tree Lane?

    If anyone mentions Beethoven and Shakespeare I can only think of this:


    Sorry about the Czech subtitles.

  23. I love that you think about such things, Karin. And in doing so, make us think about them too.

  24. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, ida know?

  25. Paula, mine would be words. I have one quote in mind, but it would take up the whole right side of my body.

    Earl, colors for numbers? Wow. No, mine were because of the shapes. Let's discuss this further.

    Bellis. BELLIS! to je legrační!

    Terry, I thought you'd like the strudel.

  26. And as a Finn, Rob woulda shoulda liked some pastry, too.

  27. Karin, you are so multitalented. I had no idea you were fluent in Czech!

  28. I'd like to undo a few circumstances I extenuated, you can bet your coulds and woulds. But as Karin Bugge is often quoted as saying, "That which was isn't wasn't."

  29. Earl, applause for yoiur comments on cliches. It might have sounded deep the first 47 times I heard it . . .

    Also, I was going to offer the bit about numbers and days of the week having colors, but the only thing I was sure of was that 3 and Wednesday are red. Well, also, Thursday is a dull grey-purple, overcast--probably because, back in the day, my town's businesses closed at noon on Thursday, and the walk home from school felt dull as a result. I'm sure this is fascinating to all . . .

  30. For me, Wednesday is yellow. 3 is green and brown. Thursday is brown.

  31. Thanks to Earl, we now know Jean, Banjo, Earl, and I have a condition known as synesthesia. And so do you, if you attribute personalities to numbers or see dates and days of the week spacially or in color. And that can't be undone.


    Damn, and I woke up feeling so healthy.

  32. I like this one! I don't know why. But, I do.

  33. Interesting that the story about Mr. Moses and Mt. Sinai (pronounced “say no” in my language) came up here.

    Maybe there is a connection between the name of the mountain and the Ten Commandments?

    Wv: Da Vinci Code.

  34. Oh, about the synesthesia - all words and letters have colors for me too, I thought I had posted about that. Maybe I thought it was TMI but I see I'm in good company.

    wv dings
    Ding! Ding! Ding!

  35. What, in this pillowy lingo of yourn, is a 'kangaroo court'?

    Pillow language is a good term because it can be used to soften the barbs from sitting on the fence.

  36. Julie, this from WIKI:

    may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849 ... It comes from the notion of justice proceeding "by leaps", like a kangaroo.Despite the association of kangaroos with Australia, the phrase is considered an Americanism.

    Hi Cafe and Terri. Good to see you.

    Paula, though I always thought attributing personality to numbers might not be the norm, I did always always think everyone saw dates and days spacially.

  37. Synesthesia: Well, I think most people, or a least a lot of people, have some aspects of it. But I'm not sure that many of us here really would qualify as really "having" it. And I don't think it's a bad thing, just a different way of perceiving the world. I have certain things that maybe aren't normal, like I think that when I look at things they're not entirely still, but I adjust. I have only a few things that are characteristic of synesthesia, not enough to be considered a synesthete.

    Paula: Do you actually see number and letters in color when you look at a page? Or do you only think of them in color in your mind?

  38. Mr E, let me just say this about that:

    ‎Do not too curiously be prying into the "WHY it is?" or "HOW it is?" But be satisfied that "SO it is"...

    wv becusnes
    Just becusnes.

  39. Paula's right, it is what it is, damned if it isn't.

  40. I didn't do the number/color association, which I thought might exempt me from the synesthete group, but apparently number-and-letter/personalty association also qualifies.

  41. I don't do these number/letter/color associations. I've been reading these comments and wondering about them. It all seems so artistic and I wondered if I was missing out. It's kind of lovely.

  42. P, I really think this is like being double-jointed -- No impact on life or art at all. But fun to find others who share your (one's, my) oddities.

  43. Mr E, I had to think about it this for a while. I don't see the colors on the page when I'm reading but I do see the colors in my head and I also visualize words as objects in my head as I go so I am a slow reader. One way of looking at it is that we would prolly be comfortable with a picture alphabet like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc. There was one study that showed that some kids from the inner city learned Chinese characters more easily than an English alphabet. Holistic vs linear brains, east vs west. Left brain vs right brain stuff maybe.

    AH, I found out I was a synaesthete when I was in a creative writing class, I was mixing my metaphors as it were, wolves howling colors, etc, and my instructor explained it to me. I went to see Sandy Blakeslee once and she had a lot to say about it but I don't recall the details. Some of her science writing covers it.

  44. For mor information on this phenomenon, check out such books as "Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens" and "The Man who Tasted Shapes."

  45. Enigma:

    A male lion and a female tiger; what is the name of the offspring?

    Wv: E-liger.

    I think we can put green to this.

  46. My head is spinning...the colors are all swirling about...quick!!! I need a pillow verb!!!

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  48. Karin,

    You've got a sense of modality, gal. 'What is', after all, mandates a descriptive 'now'. Most people feel secure with this, what passes for the empirical.

    'May' and 'would', however, give play to the imaginative, the 'if'. Magic, anyone?