Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A big, Huge Fish in the Ocean

Listening to It's My Life by Talk Talk

The trouble with this song for me is that I couldn't really tell when DJs stopped playing Talk Talk's version and started playing No Doubt's. There didn’t seem to be any time between one and the next.

Important book you should have - The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal. Strangely readable and good for dipping into.

Strange coincidental story on the BBC today.

I hope that all this stuff about language has made you realise that I finished the Genie book last night. The story of Genie is one which seems to require a resolution of a high order to leave the reader feeling that her treatment was not in vain. There is no resolution of this nature. The main players sometimes seem like ogres and sometimes like saints. In the end you like them all despite the fact that at least some of them caused the problems which had Genie retreat back into the shady world of US welfare. Forgive my obsession but now I find myself wondering what Genie is doing now. Is she in that institutionalised state glimpsed in the last pictures described in the book or has her celebrity and residual desire to help of the various scientists lifted her to some sort of normality. It was nice to see that the Riglers, a psychiatrist and his wife who took Genie in have seen her after many years and were greeted by name. I also read that Susan Curtiss who worked with Genie ('experimented on' if you want to be less charitable) has hopes of seeing her friend again.

There is a point towards the end of the book when the author sits with Curtiss at her home while her husband entertains the kids. After the technical talk, Curtiss remembers enthusing about Genie to her husband who replied that no person could ever live up to the descriptions she gave. On meeting Genie he said, "Why didn't you tell me?" Genie sometimes seems like a modern day spirit, an adept with no ability to structure language but an infinite ability to make her ideas, beliefs and feelings known to other people. The old cliché of non-verbal communication is an apt one here. I thought about this lack of syntax and it came to be that we could all speak with no syntax, just use a stream of nouns and verbs with inflection and we could probably make ourselves just as understood. Who needs well-formed sentences anyway? Not Me. No Way!

I finished the book well before lights out and was about to restart Big Bang by Simon Singh. However the dry facts of this field seemed inappropriate straight after the emotional demolition of another area of the scientific world.

Wherever Genie is I hope she is happy.

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