Saturday, August 18, 2012

Existential E

I came across a website address today - www.equote.com - and decided, without looking it up, to imagine what the 'e' might stand for.  With all the earthquakes Christchurch has been having, it could stand for earthquake quotes, a company that keeps an eye out for you when you're buying a house so that you don't wind up with a place that gets demolished by an earthquake.

Hmmm..don't think that's going to work.  There were warnings thirty years ago about potential earthquakes in the Christchurch region.  To a great extent they were pooh-poohed.

It could stand for eternity quote, as in, will I get into heaven?  On second thoughts I'm not sure that any company would offer bets on that possibility.   Ah, maybe it's existential quote - when you're stuck for a quote that's quintessentially existential, you could contact them by email, or even chat, and ask.  If I was running such a company you might wind up with quotes where the word existential was used, rather than an existential quote, but since existential is a pretty loose concept anyway, I doubt that that would matter.  Here's an example of what I'd give you:

There is no motor driving it, no music to tether it, and nothing to hold it aloft apart from that up-draft of sensual atmosphere and existential dread. 

Seems to me that's a pretty existential sentence in itself.  It comes from the Guardian article on Hitchcock's movie, The Birds, which Xan Brooks says is his favourite Hitchcock movie.

Or this interesting piece from Salman Rushdie in The New Yorker:

The British humorist Paul Jennings, in his brilliant essay on Resistentialism, a spoof of Existentialism, proposed that the world was divided into two categories, “Thing” and “No-Thing,” and suggested that between these two is waged a never-ending war. If writing is Thing, then censorship is No-Thing, and, as King Lear told Cordelia, “Nothing will came of nothing,” or, as Mr. Jennings would have revised Shakespeare, “No-Thing will come of No-Thing. Think again.”


And finally here's a nice piece by Robert Hughes on Damien Hurst's fish artwork:

I am underwhelmed by the blither and rubbish churned out by critics, publicists and other art-world denizens about Hirst's fish and the existential risks it allegedly symbolises. 

That'll do for today...by the way, equote is an online insurance company, though as far as I can see it doesn't give us an explanation for the 'e'.




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