Wednesday, July 6, 2011

crooked letter, crooked letter, i

I have a young friend named Tim -- he’s 42 and that’s young from my perspective -- whose blog I read from time to time, usually just after he has announced on his Facebook page that he has a new post on his blog. He probably announces it on Twitter also but I don’t do Twitter. I’m not saying I’ll never do Twitter because (a) never is a long, long time and (b) the scripture does say “Boast not thyself of tomorrow because thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (KJV), but for the foreseeable future (say, the next 60 years or so) I have no intention of ever doing Twitter. Blogging is one thing, and Facebooking is another, but doing Twitter definitely makes a person part of what are termed “the chattering classes” and I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the chattering classes.

Stop laughing.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was reading Tim’s blog when i suddenly realized that tim does not capitalize the beginning of any sentence or any personal pronoun that is in the first person singular or any proper name except that of deity, so i thought if it’s good enough for tim it’s good enough for me. i mean, after all, rhymeswithplague is spelled without a capital letter and following tim’s lead would be the next logical step down the path to weirdness.

his heart is in the right place, i’m sure. i mean, i get it. tim and i are both Christian men and so we are both aware of what the apostle john wrote in the thirtieth verse of the third chapter of the fourth book in the new testament:

“He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.”

in fact, i said this very thing in the third blogpost i ever wrote nearly four years ago.

i’m wondering, though, whether tim and i are really achieving our desired purpose by deciding to refer to ourselves in this unorthodox way, because from time immemorial or at least as far back as there have been english teachers, sentences have started with capital letters and the personal pronoun in the first person singular has always been capitalized, and a proper noun has been capitalized as well out of simple common courtesy, so this sudden shift has quite the opposite effect, i think, from the one intended; that is, by separating oneself from the thundering herd, by being different, one is specifically calling attention to oneself rather than away from oneself, wouldn’t you say?

or maybe that is tim’s point. we, by which i mean tim and i and all Christians, are exactly like everyone who isn’t Christian except for one thing, and that is that we want Christ to increase and ourselves to decrease. the problem, though, in taking matters into our own hands is the same one faced by orders of nuns who still wear habits that originated in the 16th or 17th century, namely that when said orders adopted their habits they wanted to look like modest peasant women of the 16th or 17th century, but in a few years the clothing styles changed. in more recent times we went through the flapper era of the nineteen-twenties and the mini-skirted era of the nineteen-sixties, and even though Christian women tried to dress modestly and stylishly simultaneously, nuns all stood out like sore thumbs because they still looked like peasant women of the 16th or 17th century. correction, make that modest peasant women of the 16th or 17th century. i mean, they might as well have been wearing big signs that said “look at me; i'm holier than thou.”

the best-laid plans o’ mice and men, not to mention orders of well-meaning nuns, gang aft agley.

so, as yul brynner used to say on days he dressed up in gold lamé outfits that were too baggy for words and went barefoot besides, is a puzzlement.

which leads me to two conclusions that i have modestly named Rhymeswithplague’s First Law and Rhymeswithplague’s Second Law:

(1) the purer the motive, the more ridiculous the manifestation.

(2) writing in all lowercase letters in order to appear humble may not achieve the objective one desires, BUT DOING THE OPPOSITE AND WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS NOT THE ANSWER EITHER.

sorry, i didn’t mean to shout at you.

now that i have had time to reflect on it, i think this will be the end of my little foray into lowercasehood.


  1. Thank goodness! Prose minus capitals is bad enough, but with minimal punctuation as well, it becomes virtually impossibly to read with any degree of pleasure...Down with ignoramuses...

  2. Jinksy, no name-calling, please! Besides, this isn't about ignoramuses, it's about people who march to a different drummer.

  3. hoot hoot huhray for bobsie and jinksy over there <><>i mean above there in just one minute: they are those that don't end up reading interesting blogs by ignoramuses and that is just as well<><><>i really have felt guilty for years just as bob did at the very last and then at the end relented{read the last sentance of his rant}i will continue to answer my comments with perfect king's english{compare me to jinkskie{any way what does pleasure have to do with it<><>if you don't have to work at understanding some one, where is the FUN????

  4. Adifferent drummer i surely am

  5. Putz, you surely are.

    P.S. to Jinksy, it worked pretty well for e.e. cummings, though, with his anyone lived in a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down) spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn't he danced his did and so forth.

  6. your foray into all lowercase writing caused my eyes and brain to work a bit harder than usual but its ok i enjoyed your post anyway but im glad you are not going to keep it up

    perhaps tims shift key is broken or he has difficulties with his fingers that make shifting impossible or perhaps he types with his toes if either of the above is true kudos to tim for writing at all

  7. Pat, I do apologize for causing your eyes and brain to have to work a little bit harder than usual. None of those things you hypothesized about Tim is/are (pick one) true but you are a generous person with a heart that makes allowances and I say kudos to Tim for writing at all anyway.

    If my writing is beginning to look and sound more like Billy Ray Barnwell every day, it is truly intentional/unintentinal/serendipitous/unfortunate (pick one or maybe two), but kudos to you for not mentioning it.