02 February 2016

Re “re-” (& other misapprehensions)

Dearly beloved,

I’ve heard some of you say that life is complicated. Many describe their relationships as complicated. Some say that romantic love itself is complicated. But my own opinion is that life, love, and relation­ships are all very simple.

Life is a breeze, if you can manage to inherit vast privilege. One error that people commit is that they choose to be born to non-ritzy parents, or they accept soulmates who are unsuccessful. Intelligence can also be a setback—nobody likes a friend who can speak ornately.

Not that being unsmart is entirely attractive; but most people prefer the company of dullards, as it elevates the apparent elan of their own mortal soul: it’s a nice buzz to feel superior without all the work.

Diet-and-exercise in a can. It’s like the theme song from that ancient video game. Just implement a habit of conquering the environment. Tend your own plot, then proceed on to the gardens of others. Own stock in paradise.

And love is simple because it’s all about pleasing the object. Take any object and fall in love with it. Now, please that object—you’ll find that the object will cling to you for life, if you offer it pleasure.

Orangutans have discovered the best way to win over a lover, scien­tifically speaking. First, one terrorizes the spouse of one’s neighbor. Next, one offers oneself as compensation for all of the hardship that one has caused. This plan succeeds on account of the rule of physics: A love object will cling to any saboteur-turned-rescuer.

But how, after enduring decades of trial-free matrimony, does a mal­adjusted ruffian remain in alliance—that is, happily married—to its unkempt orangutan?

The trick is to dream hard and fast…

Continuing this jokey sermon no longer interests me. But here below is the part that I was looking for the other day (I found it just now), from the weird book Spring and All by William Carlos Williams:

Oh yes, you are a writer! a phrase that has often damned me, to myself. I rejected it with heat but the stigma re­mained. Not a man, not an understanding but a WRITER. I was unable to recognize.

I still love Williams’s most barbarous books (I’ve been re-rereading them recently); but I admit that this excerpt is not as profound as I had remembered it being; which, at least with me, is often the case. (I mean that my mind lets me down, not WCW… my memory is a prettifying device, embellishing everything for the better.) I feel that I’m not “in the groove” with the author, for instance, when he ends the above passage with the statement “I was unable to recognize.” Why did he add that?

The prefix RE- means “again; afresh; anew… with return to a previous state… in homecoming; mutually… with intensive force…” among other things. And COGNIZE means “to perceive, to know, to become aware of…”

Now I wonder what etymological research has in common with the behavior of orangutans.

Must everything connect? (I leave this three-word prayer purposely vague.)


  • No matter how hard one tries, one cannot avoid jokiness, if one is desperate for attention.
  • Remember, remind, reminisce. Revoke, retract, recant.
  • Every human is a copy of a copy of etc…
  • Cognize the earliest mental act: the ur-cognition.

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