austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

We could drift away unto the world of lines

I suppose everybody's familiar with the phenomenon where you notice an unfamiliar word for the first time and then spend the next week fending off spontaneous appearances of the word in everything you read, including traffic signs and large floating word balloons crowding you out of the laundry room. I've actually had a rough idea for a science fiction story that I'll never write exploring the phenomenon. But I had the short-phrase variant of this come about from recently reading Nevil Shute's No Highway. In a patch of it talking about the problems professional-type people face one of the characters says to another, ``Calm seas never made an experienced sailor'.

It's an expression I'd never heard before although it makes pretty good sense once you have heard it. I never had, so I was taken by surprise to run across it in a fresh context. In this case it was the fortune in the cookie which came along with a lunchtime Chinese order while at work. I'm not sure that this actually qualifies as a fortune, but then neither does a little gem I'd gotten a few weeks before that: ``Do, or do not. There is no try''. All this may sound inauthentic, but then Chinese fortune cookies are, as I understand it, a mutation by way of San Francisco of a vague Japanese custom and we're probably doing well that they're recognizable as cookies if you kind of squint.

I'm still curious what if anything it means that the world is bringing me this message so repetitively.

Trivia: During its descent to the Moon the Ranger 8 probe provided 7,137 pictures. Source: Lunar Impact: A History Of Project Ranger, R Cargill Hall. NASA SP-4210.

Currently Reading: The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring In Wartime Washington, Jennet Conant.


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