23 December 2010

"We all ended up somewhere with our various uncertain lives flapping about us in tatters and our pockets full of foreign coins."

~K. E. Gordon - The Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Eager, the Innocent and the Doomed

Perhaps the best part of the quote is that the value of having "uncertain lives flapping about us in tatters" is beautifully muddled. Is the tattering bad? If so, did the tatters make the life uncertain? Or if they're good, does tattering uncertainty release or create some new idea? It reminds me of the concept of Negative Capability, an idea John Keats proposed in some of his letters. It basically says that an enlightened person should be "capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."

It is not necessarily a comfortable feeling. But the times when I have been stranded with foreign coins in my pockets have a hold on me. The tatters, I think, occur along seams that needed to be burst, and I am filled with a wonderful excitement for the flappings of my uncertain life. One does not necessarily expect to find poetic lines in grammar manuals. But there you are.

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