Sunday, June 27, 2004

There's no there there

How many sentences begin with the words "There is"? And they all assume that we know where there is. They don't bother to specify. They assume that because there is there, it denotes a simple truth. Whatever follows those words just has to be factual. You fill in the blank. It can be whatever is in the headlines of your daily newspaper. Here's one I just took at random off of Yahoo: "There is complete unanimity of views between China and Pakistan on the issue of terrorism." How much more authoritative that sounds than saying, "China and Pakistan agree completely about terrorism." That I might question. I might say, wait a minute, that sounds a little bit unlikely, a little too pat. But stick a "there is" in there and I am lulled to sleep by the passive construction and accept that yes, indeed, whatever follows those words simply is. But hey, there's no there there unless you say where there is. There. Even I can do it.

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