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To be simple is the best thing in the world;

to be modest is the next best thing.

I am not sure about being quiet.

G.K. Chesterton

Life is way too complicated. if there is any message to be remembered, any maxim to tattoo on your left bicep, it is “Simplify, simplify, simplify!”

To wit; yesterday as my dog Cassie and I  perambulated to the park, my eye was caught by the street signs. In our neighborhood, the theme is national parks. So we have a Mammoth, a Yellowstone, a Cascades, a Yosemite, an Everglades, etc. As I looked at Yosemite, I remembered how I used to call it Yo-se-mite (rhyming with “a little tyke”). Then I remembered La Jolla and “la jolly;” Caheunga and “Cahunga,” etc.  You get the idea.

Then I thought about j’s and g’s, h’s and i’s, k’s and q’s, and y’s and i’s. Is there a little overlapping here, I pondered? I mean how many words do you use on a regular basis – other than yellow – that start with a “y?” Is it possible y could be eliminated? No, you say, we need y’s for words like pretty and very and oy vey. I ask you to consider substituting an i for all those y’s.

Now, observe the confusion that has accumulated through the years with g’s and j’s. There’s the name George and the words garage and great and gee whiz; for j’s we have Jack and Janet, juice and jump. Couldn’t we practice a little consonantal conservation and just use g’s for everything. There is also a confusion when j slides into the i territory; that’s where you find the Johns and Juan and Ians.

That same principal applies to k’s and q’s. How hard would it be to live without q’s? And, if we get rid of the q’s, why do we need u’s? Instead of quack, you’d have kwack; instead of quick, you’d have kwik; queer would be kweer. Was that so hard?  Did you have any trouble understanding any of it?

So, with a little forethought and prudence we can easily take our alphabet down from 26 letters, to say 20 or 22. Our dictionaries wouldn’t be so big and our books would be shorter. We’d use less paper which would save the trees which would put more oxygen in the air and repair that big hole over Antarctica where all of the cosmic rays are oozing in and giving us skin cancer in the greenhouse.

If we stopped the cosmic ray seepage might that not deflect that mile-wide asteroid that is predicted? The last time something like that happened all the dinosaurs disappeared. Were they killed or did they get on the space ship?  Was this the Rapture, the Second Coming, Armageddon, cosmic-style? Was Haley Bop just the doorman? Where’s the exit?  Do we really need an “x”?

Art…should simplify.  That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process;

finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.

Willa Cather

(I was doing some reviewing of old writing and came across this from the archives @ 1998. This was blogging before it was invented. I used to send my posts via personal email to subscribers. Ah, the good old days.)