First I’d like to announce my solo art show at the Northern District Library, Toronto, for the month of July.
Details at http://www.marvynejenoff.com

(from Montage, The Toronto Mensa Newsletter, July-August, 2013)

Communication

The pen is mightier than the sword. Or, as a reader updates it, the e-ink is mightier than the Uzi. Two thoughts come to mind:
1) Why not an update for “mightier,” as well—has anyone actually used that word recently?
2) The pen/e-ink gets more laughs than the sword/Uzi.

A foray into personal communication, i.e., in the physical presence of others: Out of curiosity, I asked a few people what sort of talk they like at social events. One said the purpose of conversation is to contribute to and learn from it. Another is happy to speak very little and just sit among the company.

What I enjoy a great deal is gentle back-and-forth banter with other people in a group. I am disappointed when this type of interaction is impossible. I’m thinking here of too much ambient noise in a pub or restaurant or a discussion that gets too intense for my liking. At such times I tune out what is being said and focus on the extreme sports airing in silence on the surrounding mammoth TV screens (To me, all sports are extreme, even the commentary.) At the same time I still get the pleasure, the buzz, of being among other people. There must be pheromones or some such thing that electronic communication deprives us of.

More about tee-shirts

An old school friend visiting recently from out west took me to lunch. He was wearing a tee-shirt printed with a photograph of his wife in her wedding dress, taken decades ago. A propos of my article mentioning tee-shirts on The Big Bang Theory, he told me about the website http://www.sheldonshirts.com, where one can buy them. From what I could tell, Sheldon’s most interesting ones weren’t available, but I had likely reached the limit of my browsing skill.

Still more about tee-shirts, or is it about literacy?

“Literacy” includes the gamut from basic reading ability to the compulsion to read any text that catches one’s eye. An old acquaintance, so compelled, called himself a print junkie. I guess that’s me, too. That can be an awkward habit.

For example, I once attended an amateur stand-up comedy night. One of the performers was wearing a tee-shirt with text on it, so of course I was drawn to read it. That was difficult because I was sitting off to the side and the performer kept moving. I alternated between trying to ignore the text and wondering whether it was related to the content of the act. I never did get to read the t-shirt, and I missed much of the performance.

Another example: once on a bus I was intrigued by the tee-shirt of a man sitting opposite me and off to the side. It had ancient runes or some sort of symbols on a slightly faded rust-coloured background. My obvious interest must have made him uncomfortable. As we got off the bus at the same stop he waited to see which direction I would take: the opposite of where he was going, as it happened.

How ephemeral is literacy? Yet another reader pointed out that centuries ago a shortage of papyrus in Europe resulted in a loss of literacy in the populace. (A quick historical summary: then followed paper, the printing press and, in living memory, typewriters with carbon copies.) Now we have electronic media. Much written there is ephemeral. But we also have tee-shirts.

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