Posts Tagged With: Joan Didion

Day 401: What’s wrong?

What’s wrong, this morning?

  1. It’s snowing again, which might interfere with me getting to my yearly cardiology appointment (which I wrote about yesterday, which is not appearing as yesterday’s post, which I will attempt to explain in #2, directly below).
  2. WordPress — out of nowhere, inexplicably, suddenly, unexpectedly (I wonder how many other ways I could express this) — changed the “published on” date of yesterday’s post, about my cardiologist, to two days earlier than it should be, which is Groundhog Day, which might be kind of a cool metaphor, now that I think of it, but still annoys the hell out of me, especially since the order of the posts is now screwed up, and linking to that post might get screwed up, too.
  3. Doing footnotes (especially with superscripts) in these posts is a pain in the ass, and seems to invite all sorts of retribution from the WordPress Gods.

Short break, while I imagine what the WordPress Gods might look like.  Let’s see what comes up in “Google Images” for “WordPress Gods.”  Here’s the first image:


I wonder if Jenner Davis (a photographer whose WordPress blog yielded the above image) is having trouble with footnotes and inexplicable re-dating flukiness on WordPress?  PROBABLY NOT!

Pardon me, while I have a brief tantrum:

Why don’t things work the way they’re SUPPOSED to????????????????????

AND why do these things happen to ME????????????????

Hmmmm. I do feel a little better, getting those questions out of my head.

However, I now have posed two questions in this post that ….

…. I really can NOT answer.

Now what do we do?

Sometimes posing questions helps me (and other people I’ve observed) work things out.  Sometimes posing questions (like the question in today’s title) leads to identifying specifics, which can lead to problem solving.

For example, my specific answers to my title question — “What’s wrong? — will move me to solutions, such as:

  • Making decisions about my cardiology appointment today, focusing on safety and other possible options.
  • Sending a message to WordPress Support about that friggin’ re-dating phenomenon (which I can check off my to-do list … done!).
  • Switching my current footnote technique to something less “dangerous”.*

But questions like these:

Why don’t things work the way they’re SUPPOSED to?

Why do these things only happen to ME?

…. are unanswerable, if not imponderable. Sometimes I call those “rhetorical questions”:

I am going to use to answer the question, “What is a rhetorical question?” for some one-stop shopping, as follows:

A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected. The answer may be obvious or immediately provided by the questioner.

A rhetorical question can be “an effective persuasive device, subtly influencing the kind of response one wants to get from an audience” (Edward P.J. Corbett). See Examples and Observations, below.

Examples and Observations:

“Something [rhetorical] questions all have in common . . . is that they are not asked, and are not understood, as ordinary information-seeking questions, but as making some kind of claim, or assertion, an assertion of the opposite polarity to that of the question.”
(Irene Koshik, Beyond Rhetorical Questions. John Benjamins, 2005)

“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?”
(H. L. Mencken)

“It did not occur to me to call a doctor, because I knew none, and although it did occur to me to call the desk and ask that the air conditioner be turned off, I never called, because I did not know how much to tip whoever might come–was anyone ever so young?”
(Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That.” Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968)

Here’s another question, from me:

Does it help to ask those rhetorical, unanswerable questions? I guess we all might answer that question, in our own way.

Is the last question I asked … a rhetorical question?

Hey!  Fill in your own answer, why don’t you?  I have to figure out a way to get to my cardiologist.

But before I end this post, I would like to pose one more question — imponderable, rhetorical, whatever:


Why do the guys I live with NEVER have a towel in the downstairs bathroom?

Thanks to the guys I live with, people who ask questions I can’t answer (which, as my son has pointed out, often annoys the hell out of me),, Jenner Davis, Edward Corbett, Irene Koshik, John Benjamins, H. L. Mencken, Joan Didion (in order of appearance),  and to you — of course! — for reading today.

*  A safer, tried-and-true solution for footnotes would be these asterisks — or little stars — which (usually!) cause no problems in my posts, as long as I keep the list of footnotes short enough. Of course, there’s no guarantee of THAT. **

** But — at least —  I have control over that problem.

Categories: humor, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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