Saturday, June 6, 2009

"...all-purpose wrapping paper..."

I have mentioned before that one who reads Jaki's writing will come to expect certain themes - and indeed certain grand epigrams, certain very important quotes, certain distinct repetitions - to occur, again and again. Some might find these a bit annoying in a scholarly work, but they are wrong: wrong for neglecting a simple fact: these repetitions typically occur in Jaki's essay collections, which after all were not organized to avoid repetition, but in fact exist in order to repeat already-published works in one place!

But there is a more important point to observe about such repetitions.

As I have had cause to ascertain, three words - "the","of", "and" - account for around ten percent of the typical Jaki book, or the typical Chesterton book. They are very important words, even though their omission would rarely damage [the] meaning [of] any given sentence. But they are important helps to us as we read, justasimportantasthespacebetweenwords... these provide verbal structure and a form of synchronization. That is, they reassure us that our mental shapes are being built according to the rules. If we came upon some omission of those synchronizers, we would wonder what is going on, and might even lose the train of thought...

But it is Saturday, our half-holiday, and though unfortunately I have been too busy to give you the lectures and quotes you expect, I shall not do them now, when I am clearly far too late. I will contritely attempt to do better in the future, and proceed to our dessert course.

One of those curious little nuggets we find again and again in the Jaki collection is the "Three S's" - or sometimes the "Four S's"... and you will wonder what those are. Herewith I provide you with both the definition and use in one compact and entertaining excerpt:
The fact that a scientist, a chemist, can become Minister of Foreign affairs, is suggestive of some scientists who want to pontificate about everything under the sun, even about matters for which they are not trained at all. They show the sad development in which science becomes an all-purpose wrapping paper to sell effectively anything. Science then is lowered to the level of three other S's - Sport, Sex and Smile - where it stands for one of the four chief vehicles of the often unconscionable tactics of advertising. As such they amount to the modern version of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse that wreak havoc over any and all in their way.
[Jaki, A Late Awakening and Other Essays 35]

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