If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Thursday 26 July 2012
Read gnomica 1-50 here!
“Age is strictly a case of mind over matter.
If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Jack Benny (14 Feb 1894 – 26 Dec 1974)
If you’re not at the stage where “age” has become an issue – its afflictions physical as well as mental and emotional – for you, you probably have no idea who Jack Benny was. Take my word for it: he was a really funny guy back in the day(s of radio and very early television), and though (like his younger contemporary Bob Hope [29 Mar 1903 – 27 Jul 2003]) he liked the risqué double entendre, I don’t think I ever heard him utter an actual obscenity. Imagine that: no obscenity, and he was still a character you laughed with! (I guess that dates one aspect of my own sensibilities.)
I’m not sure if I agree with statement above, however, but it is undeniably amusing, and a rhetorical tour de force (as indeed are many jokes and witticisms that rely on ludic language).
What do I mean?
Well, there is, first, the double repetition of almost the same words (mind-mind and matter-matter).
Almost? Yes, almost!
Consider: in the first use of each word the word is a noun; in the second, it is a verb. And it just so happens (as it often does in English) that it is syntactic context and not orthography that functions as the category shifter – admittedly, this is a matter of no doubt utter indifference to anyone who is not obsessed with language, comme moi! But this is of course my blog! And I do enjoy the paronymy at work above – or is it just homonymy … or a kind of unmarked categorical polyptoton?
I can’t imagine Jack Benny (or Bob Hope either, for that matter) giving a hoot about these unfunny but [IMHO] nonetheless not entirely uninteresting linguistic meanderings.
But you will, surely, agree that, hyper-analytically speaking, the statement is funny.