There Be Monsters
It has been a week since my last post. I doubt my absence was particularly noticed or led to speculation about my doings. Nothing special has been going on. It is the typical wind up before a semester begins – the frenzied activity of registering for classes, checking available balances, do I rent or buy the textbook, …
Right now, I want to take a literary stroll for the sake of taking a literary stroll. I spent a couple of days editing some materials produced by my associates at the recovery center; biographical info, waivers, legal responsibilities … all the things the center is required to do to protect itself and its members. I spent the bulk of my time with basic formatting, but it was excellent grammar exercise. One of the joys I have found while writing my posts here is the joy of discovery. Discovering what? you ask. Well, I answer, the nuances and formalism of proper grammar that my education lacked and I have been making up for with imitation and creativity. For example, I now know how to use an ellipsis properly … (did you know that the plural of ellipsis is ellipses?)
One ellipse or two?
An ellipsis is used primarily to omit part of a sentence, particularly in a quotation. One of the sticking points is the placement of the “three evenly spaced dots (periods) with spaces between the ellipsis and surrounding letters or other marks”. If the omission occurs at the end of a sentence, things get tricky. Sometimes the period at the end of the sentence is placed before the ellipsis in the case of a sentence, or more, being omitted. If, however, the end of the sentence is all that is omitted, then the period follows the ellipsis. Sometimes an ellipsis is used to indicate a pause, like when I am searching for the right word, phrase … expression to finish my thought.
I had a whole bunch of really IMPORTANT things to render meaningless with pleonastic circumlocutions … . My continued superficial study of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and blockchains was one topic. I also found a fun word – prelapsarian, which means “characteristic of the time before the Fall of Man; unspoiled and innocent”. Of course, I had a whole spiel based on the different combinations and interpretations of the words “what” and “if”. For example,
- What if – noun referring to possible future that never manifested
- What if? – I don’t see an if in that clause, what if are you referring to?
- What ifs – referring to the logical if, then statements used in programming in the plural
There was also (and I almost forget about it!) a whole post dedicated to the myriad interpretations, or translations of a chapter of the Tao Te Ching. For the purpose of the post I picled chapter 53 because it happened to be right in front of me.
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 53
If I have even just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people love to be sidetracked.
When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear are gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge themselves with food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao.
Like I said, REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF. The important point that I wanted to illustrate from the last idea was about the subtleties or translations and how it is important to not fall into the trap of believing literally, i.e. word for word, something that has been translated and retold so many times. The last line of that stanza consists of just two characters – “not” and “tao” followed by an exclamation. … “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao”. I’m certain (or I’m hoping) that the Bible contains a similar caveat, but the annals of history would tend to disagree with me – it is the words of the Bible, or any religion, that people follow, not the sentiment.