Whether I’m showering or standing in the lunch line or halving a tomato with a plastic fork, I cannot resist thinking about split infinitives, belligerence toward Iraq and the disturbing possibility that Hitler and Mother Teresa died and went nowhere.
An erudite professor recently instructed me to meekly rewrite a sentence containing a split infinitive, a construction of the form “to + adverb + verb” that furrows the brows of highbrows like nothing else. Why should the literati needlessly rouse rabble? If they value conventionality, why do they shamelessly precede “historical” with “an” in gross violation of the time-honored rule exhorting us to precede words that start with consonants with the alpha dog among letters, the grade assigned to the best students and the best milk? In protest, I urge every English speaker to unabashedly employ split infinitives forever and ever.
On an unrelated topic, I read with interest a previous column suggesting that a majority of Americans support a preemptive assault on Iraq. Quite frankly, I doubt that respondents to CNN-sponsored telephone surveys represent the mind-enamored of America. Firstly, CNN and other such networks, inadequately report on the terrific toll that economic sanctions have taken on hapless Iraqi civilians, the sordid details of which can be readily accessed via the Internet. Secondly, time wasted on a telephone survey can be better spent on CNN-less research and analysis or at least dinner with the family.
It is heartening to see that patriotism is alive and well, but I am curious to know whether present supporters of war would be willing to walk the walk and fight. It seems too convenient to assent to a war when other people have to die. If supporting a war meant more than flag-waving and wreath-laying, if supporting a war meant a compulsory trip to the middle of some fiery and limb-littered fray, I reckon that a majority of Americans would overwhelmingly reject jingoism.
Reading the newspapers is a lot like attending a funeral, and so I am often forced to wonder about the equalizing tendency of death in relation to the unequalizing tendency of life. To start with, there seem to be no good reasons to believe that a justice-dispensing God exists. What this means is that, before ceasing to be, famished children and unpunished corporate swindlers will lead radically different lives, marked by hunger pangs on the one hand and ski vacations on the other.
The absence of ultimate rewards and punishments for the honest rickshaw drivers and the dishonest politicians of the world seems depressing enough, until we realize that the only hope for humankind is humankind!
R.S. Jolly is a senior majoring in philosophy.