Monday, April 14, 2014


Today, I report back for jury duty, a prospect which thrills me. But I have discussed that before, and in some detail, so I feel no need to recapitulate it. There are other things going on, even while I will have to be in a courtroom instead of a classroom.

I have occasionally made reference in my posts and in billing my posts to the title I have put on this webspace: Ravings with a Dash of Lucid Prose. Some explanation is doubtlessly in order. Part may be found in the title's cadence, which situates the work outside prevailing literary commonplaces but in dialogue with them. If there is a "standard" line of English verse, it is iambic pentameter, familiar from high school discussions of Shakespeare and used by all three of the English Literary Trinity--the Bard, the Well of English Undefiled, and Milton*--in their major poetical works. Spenser and Donne deploy it, as well, as do many others whose works are considered hallowed members of the English literary canon--however unstable that designation is anymore. Accordingly, the iambic pentameter line can be taken as shorthand for "poetry" or "literature," both of which this webspace discusses on occasion. (Frequent occasion.) Deployment of such a line links to the "higher" forms and constructions of the language. My title is not such a line, but its inverse: trochaic pentameter. That is to say that it is a unit of five repeated iterations of a pattern of stressed syllables in which each iteration is a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. (The iamb is unstressed followed by stressed.) As such, my title evokes the high literary by being a regular pentameter line whose regularity is disyllabic, but it does not claim to stand among the high literary, because those two syllables follow a different pattern than the "high" line (really the only other sustainable disyllabic pattern in modern English). It is a fitting remark for a set of commentaries that touch on such matters that it is similar to but markedly not the same as those matters.

Another (and probably larger) part of the explanation of the title may be found in the self-deprecating humor it suggests. Lucid prose will constitute only a small part of the material herein, with the rest of it being rambling, meandering writing that may or may not have anything of value in it, but which will take a fair bit of work to untangle in any event. The suggestion that there is little worth reading in the text is not something that argues well on behalf of the narrator (which is distinct from the author). That argument is juxtaposed with the necessary egotism of posting, raggedly moving to daily, about random thoughts and the things that come up in daily life for the author; clearly I think I have something worth reading, or I'd not be posting it for public view. In such juxtaposition is humor--or at least something that can become funny. Whether it is or not, I do not really know. But it is the kind of thing for which the writing in this webspace often strives.

*There is doubtlessly something in the fact that Shakespeare and Chaucer both have standard, commonly available appellations, and Milton does not. It may be worth looking into.

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