Saturday, 6 February 2016

Four Tops Back in Vogue

'Reaching out' was the most recent of the many ghastly afflictions visited on the English language, but it seems to have been overtaken by 'journey', used to describe an experience and 'experience', used to dress up a perfectly ordinary event or state of affairs.

These things creep up. If one isn't vigilant, they even creep into one's speech and writing. It must not happen. We must always be alert to the danger.

On a lighter note, here are the Four Tops, in their heyday, using 'reach out' in a perfectly acceptable manner - that is, via the medium of song:


To take my mind off the modern world and its abuse of language - not to mention tales of banal indignity like this one:



(What will those three children feel, when they are old enough to consider the manner of their father's death, I wonder) - I have been catching up on old copies of The London Review of Books. I learned from the one dated 21 January, 2016:

1. That the question most frequently asked by visitors, according to the guards in the Prado, is:

"Was Velasquez married?"

This cheers me up so much, as it is just the kind of idiotic, irrelevant thing that I would want to know.

2. O. Henry is reported, when nearing death, to have been lying so still that nobody could be sure if he was still alive. Some bright spark in the room then said, "I know - touch his feet. No-one ever died with warm feet", at which point O.Henry is reported to have slowly raised his head and replied, "Joan of Arc did." The storyteller claims that he then died immediately, but this is apparently untrue. It doesn't mean the incident didn't happen though.

Meanwhile in a review of a book about crying in the LRB of 15 December 2015, Ferdinand Mount provides evidence for those still unconvinced that Freudian psychology is not entirely to be trusted:

"Phyllis Greenacre, an influential American Freudian, argued in the 1940s that weeping was a displacement of urination. In women, she said, it was a hangover from infantile penis envy: fits of female weeping were attempts to emulate the glories of male pissing. Breuer and Freud thought that tears could be a healthy channel for flushing out repressed memories."

I mean to say.

Or rather, someone should reach out to Phyllis. But it won't be me. 

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