Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

O Father, is it farther or further?

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By ANNE DONNELLWhen do you say (or write) “farther,” and when is it “further”? Believe it or not, this came up at our church service last Sunday.-Tuned In (Mostly)I liked the refreshing modesty of noting (Mostly) after the Tuned In signature. Paying attention is such a big demand! We can ramble on (and on) about attention deficit (which we usually identify in other people’s children or in their older relatives when it’s not just slapping us in the face in our own in-laws), but we see the only remedy as medication. There’s something called behavior modification, too. OK, I have no idea who needs Ritalin©, but I know a nation of wandering minds when I see it.  Much of the attention we’re loosely paying consists of a kind of self-centered radar we send forth that could be best labeled, “How impressed are you with me?” And there’s always the when-will-you-shut-up-so-I-can-talk variation.  Now I’m not surprised that farther/further made the cut at church. Aside from political addresses (and early voting’s almost over, folks) and church sermons (well, there could be a murder trial coming up for you so I’d better include courtroom rhetoric) we’re not exposed to a lot of planned (we hope it is) live speech. Spontaneity’s the game most of the time, resulting in just what one would expect – ill formed mumble with rather creative variations in verb abuse.  Well, some of us sing the hymn “Farther Along” (words and music by W. B. Stevens). “ Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder /Why it should be thus all the day long;/While there are others living about us,/Never molested, though in the wrong./[Refrain] Farther along we’ll know more about it,/Farther along we’ll understand why;/Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,/We’ll understand it all by and by.” I like that “though in the wrong” bit. Other verses to this hymn have the same theme of unjust suffering while the bad people live it up, a theme I love in a kind of whiney bliss.          On the farther/further matter here’s “Further Instructions,” a poem by Ezra Pound. Half of it reads, “Come, my songs, let us express our baser passions./Let us express our envy for the man with a steady job and no worry about the future. /You are very idle, my songs,/I fear you will come to a bad end./You stand about the streets, You loiter at the corners and bus-stops,/You do next to nothing at all. /You do not even express our inner nobilities, /You will come to a very bad end…”[ATA (According to Anne) – Ezra Loomis Pound (1885-1972, American poet and critic) was a major figure of the Modernist movement, a trim-down reaction to the excesses of Victorian poetry, and a developer of Imagism, a poetry movement rooted in classical Chinese and Japanese poetry. It’s not all haiku. you know. His later work, spanning nearly fifty years, focused on his epic poem The Cantos. I have not read it so I’m spinning hoopla here. A major influence on U.S. and British literature, Pound was incarcerated in a mental hospital in Washington, D.C. (not Congress), for 12 years after he’d made pro-Fascist broadcasts from Italy in World War II.  Archibald MacLeish and Robert Frost lead the campaign to release Pound who then returned to Italy. Later he reiterated his feelings about the land of his birth when answering a question about when he’d been released, “I never was. When I left the hospital I was still in America, and all America is an insane asylum.”]ONLINE DEPARTMENT (Thanks, C.G.) “Gentle Thoughts for Today” • A penny saved is a government oversight. • The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends. • The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement. • He who hesitates is probably right. • Did you ever notice the Roman numerals for forty (40) are XL. • If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame. • The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble. • Did you ever notice: When you combine “The” and “IRS” together it spells “Theirs”? • Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. • Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know why I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved. • When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth, think of algebra, unless you’re a math teacher.  Then you should think of something like the Northwest Territory. • Birds of a feather flock together and then poop on your car. • You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks. • One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young. Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable. [If it’s not raining and your arthritis starts acting up, or icy and you break a hip, or too hot or too cold and can you tell the difference?] • Lord, Keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth. AMEN! OK, LET’S SETTLE THE MATTER. Farther traditionally refers to distance and is comparative. Easy to remember the far in farther prompts the idea of distance. (Fur in further prompts nothing useful here unless animal hair speaks to you.)  EXAMPLE OF TRADITIONAL USE OF FARTHER.  Hong Kong is farther away from here than Spokane. Further traditionally refers to something done to a more advanced degree and is also comparative. EXAMPLE OF TRADITIONAL USE OF FURTHER. I will look into the matter further before I pompously announce my decision.  So why all this TRADITIONAL?  Because the two words farther and further have come to be used interchangeably. Oh, horror, for you rule-bound types. No one is too upset over this one – let it go further down into the valley of darkness and change.  Or, farther down.
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