NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans--THERE ARE certain acts that transcend - notice the prefix trans -- ordinary human measure. Take President Bush's display of paternal love: starting a war to get his son out of the news. that's mega-love -- notice the prefix mega -- and the fact that it didn't work doesn't make it any less extra -- notice prefix -- ordinary.
People have been writing to Ann Landers about their wristwatches lately to say that something in their bodies wrecks their watches. Some say it's the pulse, others blame biorhythms, while others simply attribute the phenomenon to meta -- are you prefix-careful? -- physics. Metaphysics, metalanguages, metamorphosis and metaphor, all of them formed with the prefix meta, were popular things in the Sixties.
Then came tele -- are you paying attention? -- vangelists and transformers. Metaphysics became telephysics, metalanguages teletalk, metamorphosis telemorphosis -- which is when someone sitting on a couch is teleported and transformed into a shade inside the hyper -- are you there? -- space of TV, and metaphor became telephor, which is the process whereby everything we encounter is transformed into something we saw on TV.