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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of prepositions.

The process of becoming accustomed to a new author is very much that of learning what to exclude in this way, and this first of the three “facts,” hard as it may be to explain in detail, is one with which appreciative critics are accustomed to deal very effectively. But the other two are more baffling; one can say little about the quality of a language, if only because the process of describing it in its own language is so top-heavy, and the words of another language will not describe it. The English prepositions, for example, from being used in so many ways and in combination with so many verbs, have acquired not so much a number of meanings as a body of meaning continuous in several dimensions; a tool-like quality, at once thin, easy to the hand, and weighty, which a mere statement of their variety does not convey. In a sense all words have a body of this sort; none can be reduced to a finite number of points, and if they could the points could not be conveyed by words.

William Empson

—posted 38 days ago

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