Monday, September 19, 2005

Blog Sept. 16

Molloy Takes a Hike

But first, that time of the week has come when Molloy opens his mail and carries on a cheerful tete-a-tete with his enthusiastic readers.

Here is a brief excerpt from the first letter: “Dear Mollohy [I am sympathetic to orthographic difficulties—the real sperling is above] I always enjoy your engaging and wide-ranging travel blogs. They tell me a great deal about the various countries you are visiting. But do you have to write so much????? I have, maybe, forty-five minutes at a time to check them out, and even that is not enough. I have applied for several different jobs with longer breaks, lunches, and weekends, but your iof your interminable ramblings have confounded my efforts. Sincerely, Dysphasia.”

Well, thank you D, for your frank and perceptive comment. It is true, the blogs might be longer than some I have researched in preparing this response. One blog writer was quite concise, most of his/her comments consisting of unrepeatable four-letter words that conveyed his/her meaning(s) quite succinctly. I might say he seemed to sling meaning in all directions. Another wrote in fragments, a clear strategy of curtailment.

But there is one obstinate fact. It rises before us like the defensive wall around Florence, against which one butts one’s head (Molloy speaks from experience). One finds one’s way through the Porta Romana, or sneaks through at the Porta San Miniato after excursions along these impenetrable lengths of stone and mortar. This obstacle is the English language itself, which we can consider in this philological way: It it is a stew, not a steak, a mixture of words derived from many other languages: Greek, Roman, Anglo-Saxon make up the hefty base, seasoned with Arabic, French, Spanish, and garnishings from other peoples and cultures. With such a dish on the table, it is virtually impossible not to eat more; the language itself forces it upon the writer. I am helpless before it.

But, you may ask, how do other writers manage to write short entries, readable over a sandwich, a cup of soup? They have the same number of words, but finish after a paragraph.

This troubles Molloy—their brevity, their lack of the adventurous spirit, their apparent unwillingness to be lost in labyrinths. Molloy does not like to walk into spider webs in the night, but Molloy finds the web of language a treat. It is the cat’s proverbial “nip.” Molloy drives the side streets. The added twists and turns reveal more houses, empty lots, privacy fences, and “Keep Out!” signs, which all take longer, and, indeed, Molloy may miss an appointment here, arrive late for an appointment there, and put more miles on his verbal tires. But, Molloy is exhausted at the end of the trip. He has eaten well, and earned his nap.

And that is Molloy’s succinct reply to the beautiful, and no doubt, concise, Dysphasia.

Coincidentally, as an objective, truth-bound, travel writer, who must sustain a high consciousness of the tools of his trade, Molloy has vowed to comb the dictionary for resources and incorporate all its words over the course of his journalistic effort. He regrets that he may have to repeat one here and there, but such lax journalistic effort will be kept to a minimum.


Now here is another letter, in a perfumed envelope—hm, a gracious hand, no lock of hair, but an aura of elegance, perhaps a reader entranced more than entangled in Molloy’s peregrinations of wit and word. “Dear Molloy [an auspicious beginning], You’re just weird. I knew weirdos in high school. They were the druggies. They never did any real work, just sat around with their glassy eyes. Or they were musicians. Or they spent their time sniffing acrylics and painting their faces odd colors. Do you have piercings? Tattoos? What’s with you? Yours truly. Love, Lulelia.”

Lulelia, Molloy thanks you, like Dysphasia, for your frankness, and hopes that his tardiness in making use of the phone number [not to be published here] you included with your comments has not discouraged you from further forthright commentary.

This issue is a serious one. Molloy joins the world in wanting to expunge weirdness. It is an unwelcome phenomenon to him, raised, as he was, in a home that exuded normalcy.

He will go so far as to describe, briefly, the conditions of his upbringing. Life revolved around rabbit stew, dumplings, and round steak cooked in a tomato sauce. In order to con him into cleaning his plate at every single meal, he was told regularly that children were starving in China, India, the Maldives, and remote areas of Bora-Bora. The locus of starvation depended on which of many National Geographics his grandmother had been reading surreptitiously in the bathroom on any given day. Conditions were alternatively terrible in Tibet, Russia, New Zealand, Quaker Pennsylvania—and they were always sucking on the dessicated skins of the locale animalia. Molloy wondered especially how the Quakers could continue their non-mechanical lifestyles if they were forced to eat their horses, since he had, surreptitiously, seen a television documentary on Quakers in which bumptious, irrepressible children rode in horse-drawn wagons. Molloy suspected, synthesizing what his grandmother regularly described, and what he saw on documentary television (he knew from an early age that broadcast documentary was always true), that his own family, and the people they knew, and the people on his block, and the next block, and the other kids at school, and the people they knew, were the ones who had starved in the past, eaten their horses, and resorted to automobiles because the horse population had been irreparably diminished. Indeed, it was rare for Molloy to see a horse. Only very wealthy people had them, proof positive that horses had been reduced to rarity and their value increased beyond the means of normal people. They had even the status of protected species.

But this hardly addresses the issue of “weird,” except insofar as to affirm Molloy’s intrinsic normalcy. Molloy recalls a phrase: “At play in the fields of the Lord." This is where Molloy writes his travel blogs. In those fields God Himself seeks fellowship. And Molloy is there to chat with him, an ecstatic babbling in tongues. Visionary and prophetic, Molloy sips wine, eats crackers, and writes his interminable blogs. The fields of the lord resound with hallelujas—if that spelling seems unusual, Molloy got it from the Source Himself, who, in His more congenial moods, enjoys proofreading. In his less congenial moods, He tells Molloy to get lost and reads the paper to bring His Omniscience up to date on the world news. Otherwise, Molloy is among the blessed.

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