Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Inquiry: prologue

Over the course of the first act of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, Winnie laboriously reads the words on her toothbrush. What she finally reads is "Fully guaranteed, genuine pure, hog's setae." When she makes out the last two words, she puzzles: "A hog? A sow of course I know, but a hog?"

I like this for two reasons. First, the interesting word, the rare word, is setae; but Winnie is only interested in hog. Second, she knows that ontologically a hog stands in direct relationship to a sow, and she knows what a sow is (of course), yet she does not, or cannot, or will not make the entire link.

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