Sunday, 15 April 2012

Oxford: a different take on time and a surprising profession

Language is such a rich tool. It allows us to say so many things we mean. And so many things we don’t mean at all.

Our visit to Oxford yesterday added two more examples to my collection of fine signs to amuse the palette of the connoisseur.

Merton College is one of the world’s great seats of learning, so it was intriguing to see how they chose to keep their back gates clear:

So just how much time is there?
Merton’s intellectual power is such that I can’t rule out that they might have been thinking of time-dilation as expounded by Einstein, but my simpler mind is still having trouble imagining a time not covered by the 24 hours.

Tired by the intellectual strain of coping with Merton concepts, we made for a pub. But there too, Oxford being what it is, we were introduced to another interesting and unfamiliar idea.

Don't they get emotionally involved with pies they hand rear?
What kind of training do you need to learn to rear pork pies? And how dangerous is it to the hands? When the pies are young and lively, do they ever nip a finger?


waggledook said...

Surely their biggest crime is forgetting to hyphenate an attributive compound adjective. Who does that these days and gets away with it?

On a completely non-linguistic point, I can't quite get my head around the psychology of food. If we focus on the pragmatic interpretation of the second sign, and not your literal one, the suggestion is that the fact that people have held these animals in their hands and developed a potentially affectionate relationship with them should make us more inclined to eat them.

Yet, when faced with the concept of artificial meat, produced in a lab without going through the brief but heavy burden of existence and its resulting pain, we express disgust at how unnatural it is.

Yes, unnatural still trumps inhumane. "Unnatural" in a very restrictive sense of course, which fails to include the factory-like agricultural production.

I'm sorry... this has nothing to do with your post. Speak to you soon!

David Beeson said...

Oh, I think strict relevance is a much over-rated quality. And the whole point about blog comments is surely that they can say what they like - particularly if the blog thinks of itself as a series of random views. A commenter should simply pick a thread from what he (or she) is commenting on and then unravel a response for just as far as her (or his) tastes go.

A tangential relevance is more than sufficient.

Which is why I've chosen to answer you in kind.