Monday, October 3, 2011


This is the number of messages I have in my Gmail account. Of course, I delete. I do. Daily. But I've always led a highly verbal life. As a result, I get to get an email form Google Help Desk letting me know that my "web mail quota has exceeded the set quota which is 3GB. [I am] currently running on 3.9 GB." Forgive me Google for I have exceeded the quota. I've dared go past the permitted parameters. What now? Will I be marginalized to the outskirts of the emailing world? Is there such a thing as an email Inferno or something? Which circle will I end up in? The email did get me to thinking about my writing habits and my usually verbal life, however. For years I've been giving/receiving a whole lot of words. And words add up. 3.9 GB is a lot of words. I take a few minutes to look at some folders. Some are too passe. Especially at 2:15 AM they feel passe. I delete a few folders. And still, not a dent. I need to get a good course of action. I need to put my words on a high-protein, low-carb diet. I wake up on account of a bad dream. I open up my email to get my mind off of the disturbing images of the dream. Why was that scary behemoth of a dog chasing me like that?! I mean, I even fed it and everything. I gave it my Starbucks muffin. What gives, dog? But, I better stop talking about the dream and get back to the google chastisement. I have to face the bottomless well that is my highly verbal life and start editing much like I edit my closets. It's easy for me to edit clothing. I only own a very few items of clothing that are older than one year. The reasons are simple. I'm hard on what I wear. In no time I'll manage to ruin the sturdiest and best-made sartorial contributions any closet would love to have. Why is it to hard with words, though? In my academic career, most of my lectures and writing were about concise speech and how difficult it is to master it. As a matter of fact, for all the courses and syllabi I've developed so far, I have an assignment I called: "capture." Often, especially in literary theory courses, I'd accompany it with another one I called "James Joyce auf Deutsch." i.e., "James Joyce in German," i.e., writing a-la-James-Joyce. So, for the latter, the students would be encouraged to just keep on writing and let the words flow as naturally and freely as they could, one association at a time. And in a matter of days, the next assignment would be a one-page 'capture' intended to make them think carefully about every content word chosen. Many of the comments I would put on most papers would say, "How could you say more with less? - Economy of speech: employ it more often." It's time I heed my own advice. I've always been in love with economy of speech. Some people tend to love difficult things. And I've always loved a good speech economy. The kind that's managed right. Once in a blue moon I encounter it and, when I do, I delight in it like a diabetic at a gelateria who's been allowed to go nuts on ice cream for one blessed day. And, here I am. Looking at the number 18304. Wondering how I could have accumulated a Tower of Babel in such a short time, with much deleting and all. I start to delete a few. But then my eyes get heavy. Surely, this can be done later. I put the computer aside, turn to the left side, close my eyes, and hope I don't get tormented by the awful nightmare that woke me up in the first place and sent me to my email.

1 comment:

Liam said...

I remember the Captures, but more importantly, Economy of Speech. You were the first instructor to ever appreciate that. I never understood superfluous verbosity. Our languages offer a vast vocabulary, intended to assist us in communicating, not confound or tire us. Thank you. :)