Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The World of Tautology

Many people live in a world of tautology. There's something comforting about repeating the obvious—though others may take offense at the constant need for validation. You must have met the kind of person who needs to repeat the time of a rendezvous so many times, you no longer want to meet them at all. It’s obvious those who perseverate in this way are afraid the rug will be pulled out from under them. They will find themselves standing on a corner under the arc of the Hopper streetlight waiting in vain for their Hickey. Most people who need to repeat the yellow jacket is yellow suffer from a phobia about being stung. The only problem with analytic a priori statements of this kind is that they don’t admit of metaphysics. It’s very hard to bespeak the obvious and explore Pascal’s Wager at the same time. You’re not going to discuss Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons at a small talk convention. Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, the German compound word meaning “the burden of the past” is not on the tip of the tongue of the obsessive compulsive who calls so many times to confirm his dinner reservation that he or she eventually experiences the very thing they were afraid of—being bumped or worse simply forgotten. Still Gertrude Stein's “A rose is a rose is a rose” can actually be enlightening, depending on where you are in life.

Read "Why Compound German Words like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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