Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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June 01, 2004

dreamed last night that i was waching the tv coverage of election night 2004. turned out that the demo nominee/candidate was al gore.

i dreamed that i tuned into the 6 o'clock news, which said, "according to early results and polls, this election is an exact repeat of the 2000 election, right down to florida clearly emerging as the key battleground state that will decide everything. tune in later, but the results are already clearly decided. things will turn out exactly the same. all the experts are unanimous."

i then dreamed that i tuned into the 11 o'clock news, which said, "against all earlier predictions, democratic party voter turnout has absolutely broken all records today. democrats have been swarming the polls in massive numbers never seen before in american history. every commentator and election analyst we've spoken to says that there has definitely never been anything like this in the history of the united states of america. they are stunned. there is no precedent for this."

i then dreamed that i went to bed, woke up and tuned into the news the next morning. there was no mention of the election. the news show was discussing one celebrity gossip story after another. nothing about the election in the newspapers. nothing on the radio.

finally, i dreamed that i went to my favorite blogs and saw posts about how people were e-mailing and writing to their local media stations and asking, "what were the final election results? what happened yesterday?"

but the media spokespeople were all saying, "election? what election? there was no election yesterday. we assure you of that. what are you talking about? no one else remembers there being a presidential election yesterday. you're crazy."

eats shoots & blogs

When he first started in film, Walken would immerse himself in researching a role, but it didn't take. Instead, he adopted a novel line-reading technique. When he received a script, Walken would immediately cross out all the punctuation. Nowadays, he no longer has to mark up the pages; he just doesn't see periods or commas anymore. ''It lets you decide what the important word is,'' Walken says. ''It might be the noun, it might be the verb. It might be a word you never thought of.''
from the interview with Christopher Walken which appeared in the NY Times Magazine on 5/30/04

A statute's plain meaning must be enforced, of course, and the meaning of a statute will typically heed the commands of its punctuation. But a purported plain-meaning analysis based only on punctuation is necessarily incomplete, and runs the risk of distorting a statute's true meaning. Along with punctuation, text consists of words living "a communal existence," in Judge Learned Hand's phrase, the meaning of each word informing the others and "all in their aggregate tak[ing] their purport from the setting in which they are used."
U.S. Nat. Bank of Oregon v. Independent Ins. Agents of America, Inc., 508 U.S. 439, 454-55 (1993)

Catherine Fitzmaurice, that great teacher of actors who do or want to do Shakespeare, sometimes asks actors to ignore the punctuation of Shakespeare texts and work out their own based on the meaning.
from "Elsinore Stands But Hamlet Is in Ruins," by David Kozubei

"Shakespeare is her bane
of contortion - all those double entendres,
wierd ploys, warble chokes. How can one stand
a language that sniggles like string, snags in the tongue?"
from Lewis Turco's "Ambiguphobia: the Fear of Puns"

"Breathing is Meaning," by Catherine Fitzmaurice

"the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE"
from Charles Olson's "Projective Verse"

"Charles Olson equated the line with the breath, one exhalation of a speaker."
from "End-Stops, Enjambments, and Caesuras: Certain Line-Breaks in Recent American Poetry," by William Gillespie

on the history of punctuation:
here, here and here