Thursday, February 28, 2008

Epiphany of the Day

Well, it may not really qualify as an epiphany. Nevertheless, it's a realization about myself--namely, that being sick renders me extra argumentative. Of course, another possibility is that I'm always this argumentative and contrary, and being sick just brings it to the surface, via the general weakening of my body and consequent weakening of my judgment/sense of perspective/verbal-filtering system... The latter is probably the case. (You may also notice that being sick has a tendency to make my syntax more convoluted, or, alternately, make me more precise/persnickety.)

Whence came said realization? From the two classes I actually went to today, English and seminar.

I had intended to minimize my participation since my voice is rapidly deteriorating, but "the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry," and we were discussing a religious poem in English, which is pretty much a recipe for controversy. You will be pleased to hear that I did not pick a fight about religion, relationship to God, etc. My judgment didn't fail me that badly. I will confess to asking what the professor meant by saying that "When we pray, we don't command God," given the preponderance of imperative verbs in the psalms. Ok, fine, maybe I sort of picked a fight on that one. But I smothered the vast majority of related comments I had on that generalization of his, even when he said that the Psalms were in the New Testament (!) and were all laments about Babylon's oppression of Isreal (!!). Somebody's chronology is a little confused...

Anyway, the huge discussion I did end up getting into was on grammar. Yes, that's right, grammar. Not a "this is bad grammar" argument, mind you, but a "is this verb in the imperative or the indicative?" argument. Oh dear. My argument rested on inversion and lack of direct object (i.e. grammar/syntax/linguistics), while his rested on the emotional arc of the poem. I tried to restrain myself, but ... well, grammar is my thing.

You should be really proud of me for not calling him out when he said that "in Latin and the Romance languages, to make the passive voice you just make the verb reflexive." Ok, so, that may be true in Catalan (which is the language he chose his example from). However, it is patently false in Latin, and not true in French, either (though making that mistake in French would be more understandable). What the heck.

If you're curious (for whatever reason): The poem was John Milton's "On the Late Massacre in Piedmont," and the verb was "sow" on the 10th line.
And to clarify: I actually really like both my English class and my English teacher. He's extremely smart and has wonderful diction.

The other episode, that of the seminar, is less dramatic and not worth explaining.

Hopefully such incidents will not be repeated, since I am self-medicating with curry, lemon tea, and boiling showers.

Post script: It seems ironic that I am trying to remedy the state of my throat feeling as though it's on fire by means of eating spicy "hot" curry.

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