Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another Thursday in Paradise

A young woman sitting across the aisle from me on the 81 is holding an infant in her left hand and tickling her toddler daughter, who is lying across her lap, with her other hand. The toddler is giggling and smiling and babbling in Spanish with her eyes closed.

Right now the toddler is hanging her head upside down from the seat, waving her arms, and saying something like "MOMEE-AA! MOMMEEE-AA!". Sometimes, she says this as if she's gargling the word, with a lot of saliva bubbling over her vocal cords.

Among other things, today I had the idea to start a t-shirt company called "Lotusville". I realized this was a pretty bad idea soon after I thought of it.

Also, I learned today, reading silently on my computer screen a letter from Louis H. Mackey to the editor of the New York Review of Books from February 2, 1984, that the ancient Greeks always read aloud. Mackey's letter took issue with what the he perceived as John Searle's intolerant review of the work of Jonathan Culler and Jacques Derrida and charged Searle with, among other things, unfairly implying in his review that neither Culler nor Derrida were aware that the Greeks read aloud; the letter writer argued that it was "unthinkable" to believe Culler and Derrida could have been ignorant of this historical point since it was such a "commonplace". (The letter and Searle's reply are interesting and worth reading: you'll be transported back to your junior year English seminar.)

Now the toddler is saying something like "POPPEE-YAA! POPPPEEEE-YAAAA! POPP, POPP!"

It's amusing to think what the world would be like if everyone read aloud -- very aloud -- all the time: if, say, everyone on the bus were like the toddler across from me, yelling out their thoughts, everyone reciting loudly as they read El Diario, their horoscope, the sign for La Estrella Tacos on Figueroa outside the bus window, the names and phone numbers of people calling them on their cell phones, and me yelling out each word I type with my thumbs on this device. It would be like a Spike Lee movie. (Or is that Wes Anderson?)

It would be even more fun at work: people asking questions at depositions, people answering those questions, the stenographer repeating everything aloud as he typed, lawyers down the hall belting out passages from the decisions of the California Court of Appeals, as other lawyers bellowed out each word of the letters, memoranda, and briefs they were composing on their computers and with their pencils, reciting in their own voices the passages they were quoting from precedent, sometimes shrieking, sometimes growling, never silent.

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