Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Friday, June 28, 2013


Earl the Squirrel's Rule #20
     Consider a scene played out in every preliterate society:  someone creates speech that the tribe members wish to preserve intact.  Without writing, this will involve memorization.  Limitations may require that the addition of a new poem could, sooner or later, require dropping another, probably older, piece from the common culture.  This could be a weighty decision, leading us to the question:

    "How many times per year would a primitive community add a poem to its collective consciousness?"

     Once?  Twice?  Often zero?  Very rarely, three?  Sounds about right. 

     Flash forward to today.  Go to a library and grab some poetry anthologies written over the last few centuries.  Note how similar they tend to be in size.  More importantly, note how, other than during Shakespeare's career (that dude was a serious freak!), each year over the last few centuries has produced approximately the same number of memorable poems:  zero, one, two or, infrequently, three.

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #54
     Our population may have increased a millionfold since those cave-dwelling days.  Our language and prosodies are infinitely more complex.  We have developed not just writing and mass printing but, later, easy and affordable Desktop Publishing.  Through mass media and, subsequently, the Internet we can engage billions more than the number of tribespeople gathered around those campfires to hear stories.

     Thus we come to the spooky part:  Annually, with all of our modern advantages in technology and sheer population numbers, we create exactly the same number of oft-memorized, widely recognized pieces--poems--as our primordial ancestors:

     Zero.  One.  Maybe two.  Occasionally three.

     In the last fifty years, a streak unmatched in human history:  zero.

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