Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thinking and Thanking

I think and I thank. Thinking, I thank. I think, therefore I thank. Cogito ergo gratias ago? (Apologies to Descartes!) Because I think, I thank. When I think on all the lovely things on which I think, it makes me want to thank someone. I look outside myself for someone to thank. Who to thank? It is not of my doing. There must be another, maker or made, who did something for me, so that thinking, I must thank another. When I meditate on the marvels of existence, when I remember the riotous colors of creation, the exquisite harmonies of the universe, when I catch a glimpse of the sparks of the transcendent, when I feel the warmth and appreciation of another, I thank. Thoughtfulness leads to thankfulness.

Thinking of the things for which I thank, I am filled with grace. The grace that is given causes grace in the one to whom given. Thus, in Urbs Aeterna, Italia, and Sefarad, gratia, gratias, grazia, grazie, gracia, gracias reflect the full of graceness, gracefulness, gratefulness of those granted grace. And who the grantor? Where the giver of grace? Another. A thou. A you. Always one to whom we, thinking, are gracefully thankful. Grace is gratis, freely given, never coerced. Freely gotten, not grabbed. Grazia. Gratis. Grazie!

Gallic grace grows from mercy given. Kindness, pardon, forgiveness received. Mercy. Merci! Beaucoup. A lot. All this mercy. Whence? From whom? Someone to whom to say “Merci beaucoup.” One like me and more, different from, and yet? Shadow. Image. Umbra. Fellow. Friend. Always another. So close at hand. To thank.

Western Iberians, those of the warm, beautiful port, owned an obligation incurred from the merciful grace given. Obrigado! The merciful grace, freely given and gotten, obligates its owners to reach out, speak out, be out in thinkful, thoughtful, thankful, thankfulness. Obrigado opens to the other, another, the you that does for us the thoughtful thing that obligates us (freely) to thank.

Hellenists eucharistically honored and honor the gift of gracefully given mercy-kindness-favor. Charis. The good gifts. Eucharisto. Good thoughts of these gifts. Eugnomon. Full of good thinking, full of thanking.

The bearish denizens of the frozen north, followers in writing of Cyril, shout the salvific kindness-goodness, given mercifully and gracefully to save, preserve, support, and succor. Spasebo! To you and you and other you. Slava Bogu! To the one You. Glory!

At the crossroads of the world, in The Place, the least yet the greatest of the world’s peoples must do more than remember, mouth, think, savor, believe, honor, shout the mercy-kindness-goodness-love-warmth, gracefully and mercifully showered upon them. They must do. Todah! Use the hands to give, to do, to repair, to mercy, to grace, to reach out, to undertake, to build, to teach, to inspire, to bless, to help, to praise, to raise up, to heal, to transform, to uplift, to magnify, to bring forth, to create, to lift up the hands and one another, to elevate every adamish act to a qaddish one infused with the likeness of the One to whom thanks are due now and to evermore, l’olam va’ed.

And so on this Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America in 2009, a day set apart by our elders, our forebears, our go-beforers, the patriarchs and matriarchs, who in their wisdom, set apart this one day especially (as a shining example of what every day should be) to give thanks especially to the One from whom we have received bounty inestimable and also to one another for the kindness, goodness, favors, honor, and love without which life would not be worth living, and without which we might question why we are here, but in the presence of which we understand, we are simply thoughtful, thinkful, thankful.

O You, knelt-kneeling fountain of all goodness, our self-existent powerful One, guide-sustainer-provider of all space and all time, who brings into being all things by the breath of life, we call you Blessed, and give you thinking, thoughtful, grateful, graceful, obligated-yet-gratis merci beaucoup, eucharisto, todah rabah, grazie mille, thanks a thousand, million, lots and lots, a whole bunch, spasebo, thanks forever and ever, v’imru
Previous Thanksgiving Thoughts
Thanksgiving 2004

Friday, November 06, 2009


William Safire's Fumblerules
Self-contradicting Rules for Writing

The self-styled language maven William Safire authored a language column in the New York Times for over 30 years. During that time, he compiled a clever but useful list of self-contradicting rules for writing. He called it his Fumblerules.
After perusing the list, you may imagine Mr. Safire to have been a language absolutist, a pedant eschewing every neologism and exception to a rule. In fact, such was not the case. Safire found himself criticized from both ends of the linguistic spectrum, prescriptivist and descriptivist alike.
Consider fumblerule 41, for example: "Remember to never split an infinitive." In his book Fumblerules, A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage, Safire explains not only that it is perfectly acceptable to split an infinitive but how, when, and why you might decide to unabashedly split an infinitive. (Besides, as my cousin Bobby points out, the whole "don't-split-an-infinitive" taboo comes from Latin, in which it is impossible to split an infinitive, since Latin infinitives are one word, not two.)
When it came to new words, Safire approved, but with a proviso: “I welcome new words, or old words used in new ways, provided the result is more precision, added color or greater expressiveness.”
Mr. Safire loved language and loved to play with language. An avid paronomasiac, he punned on his self-styled mavenhood in his book, Quoth the Maven.
Here are 51 Fumblerules. Each one is self-contradictory, that is, it violates the rule it tells the reader to avoid.
1. No sentence fragments.
2. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
3. A writer must not shift your point of view.
4. Do not put statements in the negative form.
5. Don't use contractions in formal writing.
6. The adverb always follows the verb.
7. Don’t use Capital letters without good REASON.
8. It behooves us to avoid archaisms.
9. Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
10. A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.
11. Write all adverbial forms correct.
12. In their writing, everyone should make sure that their pronouns agree with its antecedent.
13. Use the semicolon properly, use it between complete but related thoughts; and not between an independent clause and a mere phrase.
14. Don't use no double negatives.
15. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
16. When a dependent clause precedes an independent clause put a comma, after the dependent clause.
17. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: Resist hyperbole.
18. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
19. Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
20. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
21. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
22. “The male pronoun embraces the female” is a nonsexist standard that should be followed by all humankind.
23. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
24. The passive voice should never be used.
25. Writing carefully, dangling participles should be avoided.
26. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!
27. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
28. The rigid rule of “i before e except after c” raises spelling to a science.
29. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
30. Use parallel structure when you write and in speaking.
31. Boycott eponyms.
32. Ixnay on colloquial stuff.
33. Of all the rules about indefinite pronouns, none is useful.
34. Zap onomatopoeia.
35. Resist new verb forms that have snuck into the language.
36. Better to walk through the valley of the shadow of death than to string prepositional phrases.
37. You should just avoid confusing readers with misplaced modifiers.
38. One will not have needed the future perfect tense in one’s entire life.
39. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences—such as those of 10 or more words—to their antecedents.
40. Eschew dialect, irregardless.
41. Remember to never split an infinitive.
42. Take the bull by the hand and don’t mix metaphors.
43. Don’t verb nouns.
44. De-accession euphemisms.
45. Always pick on the correct idiom.
46. If this were subjunctive, I’m in the wrong mood.
47. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
48. "Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks." '"
49. Never use prepositions to end sentences with.
50. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
51. Last but not least, avoid clich├ęs like the plague.

For more about William Safire, look here and here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jimmy

Happy Birthday, Jimmy
We Love You!
The Many Facets of Jimmy