Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In 1989 or 1990 I was working on a government proposal. Huge. Many volumes. Military stuff. I came upon a blank page that was not quite blank. "This page intentionally left blank." These words emblazoned the otherwise white 8.5 by 11 page. In brackets. Centered. Is my memory accurate? Is the phrasing correct? At first I laughed, thinking, how stupid! I still don't get it, not entirely. Was it a placeholder for information to be filled in later? Was it blank for security reasons, and if so when would it become nonblank? But, of course, in a swirl of circular Dadaism, the page could never be blank as long as it had words on it, albeit bracketed words. How powerful, then, are brackets! They are cogent enough to suspend reality, as it were, or is, or ever shall be. They are Editors Supreme. Would that we could employ (do not expect to see me use the loathsome word "utilize"!) brackets orally, the way people bend their raised index and middle fingers, genuflecting the air, to indicate either irony or a literal quotation. Of course, that's not oral at all. I meant visually vis-a-vis speech, didn't I? Perhaps we could start a new movement (literally qua literalness) of angling the thumb and index finger of each hand rectangularly, raised parallel to each other, like a referee signaling a touchdown, bracketlike, to alert the world to the advent of one's bracketed speech, as if to say, "I'm not really saying this" or "I cannot believe what I'm going to say" or "I'm saying this but it doesn't count" or [This mind intentionally left blank].