Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cannibals and hedgehogs

There is absolutely no relationship between cannibals and hedgehogs. Or so it would seem. After picking these two words completely out of the air, I discover there are 14,500 results when I google them together.

The first result points out that in fact Indian hedgehogs behave at times like cannibals, in that those who are sick and infirm fall prey to those healthy country club hedgehogs. Who would have thought it?

The second result references a book called Liberals and Cannibals: The Implications of Diversity, by Stephen Lukes, which embarks upon an interesting typology of hedgehogs (i.e., those who adhere to a single, central, coherent vision): positivist hedgehogs, uniformitarian hedgehogs, and so on. To characterize hedgehogs as monolithic in their mode of thinking is perhaps to make a leap of faith. Still it is comforting to reflect that there may be in nature a species with a unified consciousness. It is certainly not the human being...unless, of course, we turn to the saints and mystics of the race, most of whom live in caves, and so may be said to constitute a type of the earth-dwelling hedgehog. They would not, however, ordinarily be found among the cannibal sects, which seem mostly confined to places like Washington, D.C.

The point of this is that there no two words can exist without there being inherent connections between them. Perhaps these connections are only inherent in the mind. Still, they are real enough. Do not let your thoughts burrow too far into the rooty conspiratorial mass of potential associations or you will find they will eat their own young, and in the process, you.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


"Words, words, words," says Hamlet. Are they alive or dead? Are they husks of thought to be cast into the sea of troubles or seeds of life to regenerate our barren world?

We are living in an age of devaluation of the word. If the word was once made flesh, it is now bone. It is bereft of life and love. The political and media babblers have cheapened the world of discourse while academic scribblers have freighted the golden wings of poets with leaden, prosaic expostulations.

At this point in my mini-rant I arrive at a point analogous to the final quatrain of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
Haply I think on thee, and then my state
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate.

And I regain my hope. As did Hamlet himself:
"There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all."

Yet it will come. Be ready.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy newish year

The year having just begun, barely out of the box, it must nevertheless be considered slightly used. Already certain cliches have been replayed: thirty killed in a Baghdad funeral bombing, Democratic presidential candidates are still disparaging each other's electability, and 2008 data is expected to further confirm global warming. Which means Iowa will get colder. The New Year's greetings are freezing on the lips here as cars spin in the day's new accumulation of snow.

So in the spirit of eBay, Happy Newish Year, slightly used, with faintly soiled dust jacket. May you enjoy many happy reruns. I mean returns. Of course, the new annum is non-returnable. So get used to it and make the best of it. It's going seem like a year till the next one rolls around.