Shorthand Quotes (displaying: 1 - 25 of 25 quotes )
To say exactly what one means, even to one's own private satisfaction, is difficult. To say exactly what one means and to involve another person is harder still. Communication between you and me relies on assumptions, associations, commonalities and a kind of agreed shorthand, which no-one could precisely define but which everyone would admit exists. That is one reason why it is an effort to have a proper conversation in a foreign language. Even if I am quite fluent, even if I understand the dictionary definitions of words and phrases, I cannot rely on a shorthand with the other party, whose habit of mind is subtly different from my own. Nevertheless, all of us know of times when we have not been able to communicate in words a deep emotion and yet we know we have been understood. This can happen in the most foreign of foreign parts and it can happen in our own homes. It would seem that for most of us, most of the time, communication depends on more than words.
I didn't know shorthand either. This meant I couldn't get a good job after college. My mother kept telling me nobody wanted a plain English major. But an English major who knew shorthand would be something else again. Everybody would want her. She would be in demand among all the up-and-coming young men and she would transcribe letter after thrilling letter. The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters.
Just what the hell did you mean, you bastard, when you said we couldn't punish you?" said the corporal who could take shorthand reading from his steno pad."All right," said the colonel. "Just what the hell did you mean?"I didn't say you couldn't punish me, sir."When," asked the colonel."When what, sir?"Now you're asking me questions again."I'm sorry, sir. I'm afraid I don't understand your question."When didn't you say we couldn't punish you? Don't you understand my question?"No, sir, I don't understand."You've just told us that. Now suppose you answer my question."But how can I answer it?"That's another question you're asking me."I'm sorry, sir. But I don't know how to answer it. I never said you couldn't punish me."Now you're telling us what you did say. I'm asking you to tell us when you didn't say it."Clevinger took a deep breath. "I always didn't say you couldn't punish me, sir.
There was a time in my life when I did a fair bit of work for the tempestuous Lucretia Stewart, then editor of the American Express travel magazine, Departures. Together, we evolved a harmless satire of the slightly driveling style employed by the journalists of tourism. 'Land of Contrasts' was our shorthand for it. ('Jerusalem: an enthralling blend of old and new.' 'South Africa: a harmony in black and white.' 'Belfast, where ancient meets modern.') It was as you can see, no difficult task. I began to notice a few weeks ago that my enemies in the 'peace' movement had decided to borrow from this tattered style book. The mantra, especially in the letters to this newspaper, was: 'Afghanistan, where the world's richest country rains bombs on the world's poorest country.'Poor fools. They should never have tried to beat me at this game. What about, 'Afghanistan, where the world's most open society confronts the world's most closed one'? 'Where American women pilots kill the men who enslave women.' 'Where the world's most indiscriminate bombers are bombed by the world's most accurate ones.' 'Where the largest number of poor people applaud the bombing of their own regime.' I could go on. (I think number four may need a little work.) But there are some suggested contrasts for the 'doves' to paste into their scrapbook. Incidentally, when they look at their scrapbooks they will be able to re-read themselves saying things like, 'The bombing of Kosovo is driving the Serbs into the arms of Milosevic.
By the 1920s if you wanted to work behind a lunch counter you needed to know that 'Noah's boy' was a slice of ham (since Ham was one of Noah’s sons) and that 'burn one' or 'grease spot' designated a hamburger. 'He'll take a chance' or 'clean the kitchen' meant an order of hash, 'Adam and Eve on a raft' was two poached eggs on toast, 'cats' eyes' was tapioca pudding, 'bird seed' was cereal, 'whistleberries' were baked beans, and 'dough well done with cow to cover' was the somewhat labored way of calling for an order of toast and butter. Food that had been waiting too long was said to be 'growing a beard'. Many of these shorthand terms have since entered the mainstream, notably BLT for a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, 'over easy' and 'sunny side up' in respect of eggs, and 'hold' as in 'hold the mayo'.
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children...The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth.
But the trouble with sainthood these days is the robe-and-halo imagery that gets stuck onto it." Carl got that brooding look again. "People forget that robes were street clothes once... and still are, in a lot of places. And halos are to that fierce air of innocence what speech balloons in comics are to the sound of the voice itself. Shorthand. But most people just see an old symbol and don't bother looking behind it for the meaning. Sainthood starts to look old-fashioned, unattainable... even repellent. Actually, you can see it all around, once you learn to spot it.
I'm always disappointed when I see the word 'Puritan' tossed around as shorthand for a bunch of generic, boring, stupid, judgmental killjoys. Because to me, they are very specific, fascinating, sometimes brilliant, judgmental killjoys who rarely agreed on anything except that Catholics are going to Hell.
In the City Market is the Meet Caf. Followers of obsolete, unthinkable trades doodling in Etruscan, addicts of drugs not yet synthesized, pushers of souped-up harmine, junk reduced to pure habit offering precarious vegetable serenity, liquids to induce Latah, Tithonian longevity serums, black marketeers of World War III, excusers of telepathic sensitivity, osteopaths of the spirit, investigators of infractions denounced by bland paranoid chess players, servers of fragmentary warrants taken down in hebephrenic shorthand charging unspeakable mutilations of the spirit, bureaucrats of spectral departments, officials of unconstituted police states, a Lesbian dwarf who has perfected operation Bang-utot, the lung erection that strangles a sleeping enemy, sellers of orgone tanks and relaxing machines, brokers of exquisite dreams and memories tested on the sensitized cells of junk sickness and bartered for raw materials of the will, doctors skilled in the treatment of diseases dormant in the black dust of ruined cities, gathering virulence in the white blood of eyeless worms feeling slowly to the surface and the human host, maladies of the ocean floor and the stratosphere, maladies of the laboratory and atomic war... A place where the unknown past and the emergent future meet in a vibrating soundless hum... Larval entities waiting for a Live One...
While eschewing emotion - and its companion, vulnerability - Obama should be careful not to sacrifice empathy, the 'I feel your pain' connection that sustained Clinton. This connection is the shorthand people use to measure their leaders' intentions. If people believe you're on their side, they will trust your decisions.