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

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Jean Michel Jarre

    Mathematicians will tell you that theirs is a universal language but, trust me, anything more complex than the simplest arithmetic is well beyond most capacities to comprehend.  Especially mine.

    This is the difference between "universal" and "cross-cultural".

    In fact, music is the only truly universal language.  There is no better example of this than Jean Michel Jarre's 1976 classic instrumental recounting of the history of oxygen (along with Earth and life on it), "Oxygène".  The fact that even squirrels can understand this storyline illustrates how widespread music appreciation can be and how limiting language is.

    By contrast, we have Robert Frost telling us that "poetry is what is lost in translation."  This is cross-cultural.  For example, this couplet by Erica the Red is iconic and considered profound among squirrels:

The world loves most
whom dawn finds first.

    ...but barely makes sense once translated into any human language.  It is like the story of the expression "out of sight, out of mind" being translated into Russian and back into English as "invisible idiot".

    Since Frost's death half a century ago things have gotten significantly worse within the anglophone world, where only a tiny fraction know the rudiments of English verse.  This makes it arcane--the polar opposite of universal.  Oh, and let's not even get started on "accessibility" issues!

    Once music [on the radio] supplanted poetry in the 1920s the question became:  "How can something almost no one understands compete with something everyone does?"

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Earl Gray, Esquirrel

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