Grammar Lesson Penny Post

Andrei Codrescu

October 21, 1990|By Andrei Codrescu

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.

For example: the desert sand was the color of Captain Picard's head.

The meta-tele prefix switch has been marked by instability of the prefixes trans and mega which could mutate into hyper and ultra any day now. For example: the transcendent nature of President Bush's mega-love for his son Neal caused him to start an ultraconflict in hyper-space to get him out of tele-talk.

One man wrote to Ann Landers that the way to start one's watch going again after the biorhythms broke it was to rub a fresh clove of garlic on it every day. That's an ultra-solution to a meta-chronological problem.

It might also solve the extra-ordinary problem of tele-reality messing with Chronos, the meta-entity that lives in my watch under a desert sky the color of Milk of Magnesia commercials.

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