Tuesday 4 September 2012

Dead Letter Day

 Nice Ideal ...
That affirmed Platonist, Algernon Swift, makes an interesting discovery: by adding an S to certain words he can increase the number of abstractions in the world.  Thus:

phonelines become phoneliness  

headlines become headliness


trainlines become trainliness 

(a quality in which, of course, all trains partake).

Better still, he discovers that by adding a T to other words he can live in the world of Ideal Forms.  Thus, he no longer takes a turn in the shrubberies but in the shrubberiest.   These are not blackberries he picks and puts in his mouth but the blackberriest.  And when he collects together a large number of anything, they do not form any old pile of random rubbish but the congeriest. 

Swift writes to Reverend Hawker, to tell him of his discovery.

Horror Ensues ...

But that materialist, Reverend Hawker, is having none of it.  “You eel!”  he writes by return of post, in a letter which reduces the world to a model of mechanical reproduction.  
And this he does merely by removing the S from various abstractions.
Where once it was the qualities of Manliness and Womanliness that defined the human race, now they are replaced by the mechanical horror of Manlines and Womanlines.  
In this barren landscape, Beauty is reduced to Lovelines and spiritual virtue to mere Saintlines.   
And should a person seek to assert his individuality by being a little bit human and untidy, this untidiness is immediately subsumed into the mechanical process and reordered into Slovenlines.  
And should he cry out at his sense of isolation, it will not take him long to realise he is merely one of many standing in long lonelines  -- in long appalling lonelines that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Swift is disconsolate.

Consolation arrives ...
Swift lies back on his couch and yearns for the soft touch of comfort.  Which is not long in arriving, for soon comes stealing into his mind the conception of
             Nature at her loveliest
             A garden at its prettiest
             Womankind at her comeliest
             Female form at its shapeliest.
By discreetly removing the T from the end of each of these, Swift finds his couch surrounded
             by lovelies,
             by pretties,
             by comelies
             and shapelies,
among whom he reclines as if he were a knight in a Pre-Raphaelite painting, and sinks into sleep  with a milk-drunk baby’s look of utter satisfaction on his face ...

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