Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fun with Signs in Tennessee - Part 2!

So - Julie Puttgen sent me this photo of a sign she sees on the drive to the Nashville, TN, airport:

Her comment essentially was, "Is this OPOYUL~ or what?" And, "This bothers me in a 'so what is the subconscious part' kind of way" (of which more later). The sign says

  • 1) "Sherriff's Correctional Complex" [fair enough, I can't see anyone without a 'correctional complex' achieving the job of Sherriff];
  • 2) "Offender Re-entry Center" [?! We need some subject/object clarification here]; and
  • 3) "Metro Animal Control" [?!!!!! Julie entitled the photo "Animal Offender" and I laughed, but now that I think it through, the implications of the sign taken as a whole could be much spookier -- I still want to do that graphic novel about all the abused suburban animals rounding up a bunch of humans for their own Death Race 2000.]
It is OPOYUL~Y in a hard to pin down way. There is something very simple and obvious to be communicated here, but at the same time is aimed only at people who have specific business there and already know exactly what is going on. So, the official/ formal/ appropriate words are superfluous as to their intended audience and meaningless to everyone else. The new term I am making up right this moment for such an unsatisfactory usage is contralogism. It is efficient and often necessary to perpetrate the old contralogism now and then, especially in the legal field, but it hurts a little to see language flapping uselessly/meaninglessly beside the road that way.

The "so, what is the subconscious part" is something mentioned in the very useful book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. A man goes to a psychiatrist and says "I think I am subconsciously avoiding having sex with my wife." The psychiatrist, very psychiatristily, says "Why do you think that?" The man says, "Well, every night I watch TV until an hour after she goes to bed, and then, if it turns out she is still awake, I go back and watch TV until I am sure she is asleep. I figure I must be subconsciously avoiding the possibility of sex with her." The psychiatrist then asks, "What's the subconscious part?"