Something is the something of the someone.

Karl Marx is the author of a very famous quote. More the the point, many people know a small portion of the quote. The part you’ll remember is: “Religion is the opium of the people”. Some folks use this as an argument against organised religion, when what Marx was trying to say with that teeny tiny passage from a much, much larger idea has more to do with economic and political stresses. Marx was no great lover of religion, but had Marx really wanted to come down on religion, he was more than capable of doing so with something much stronger than this gentle comparison.

‘Gentle’?

Yes. Opium has a distinct purpose. When someone who is in pain has been administered opium in any of its derivatives, their pain is eased. This is the simile Marx evoked. Certainly, he also went on to say many things about religion being, like opium, a somewhat topical solution. Administering opium to a patient in pain doesn’t cure the underlying condition; it merely treats discomfort in the short-term. So too does religion, he argues, soothe those living with economic and political discomfort, but it does not solve the underlying economic and political issues which brought the people to that point.

There’s no denying that Marx had very strong opinions on religion and atheism, but I don’t think this one portion of a quotation is “proof” that he was an atheist, nor do I think this particular quote ought to be used by atheists, ever, to bolster or support their position. 

Um. Okay, I didn’t mean to make a post about Marx. Because extending the simile, someone claimed that if Marx were alive today, he would say that television is the opiate of the masses. I think that’s giving rather a lot of credit to the boob tube, particularly since every culture in the world has a form of religion or religious/spiritual worship, but not every culture in the world has television. I mean, okay, taken in the context in which it was meant, it’s pithy; I’ll give you that.

Marx, however, thought “bigger” than that. Television is an easy target, and I don’t think he would have cast his net in such shallow water. My guess is that Marx would have said that *marketing* or spin is the opium of the masses, were he alive today. Consumerism is the opium of the people now. Buy, buy, buy, and you will be happy. You will forget your problems if you get the new dust mop, the latest car, or the new paint for your kitchen. You can SPEND YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT.

I wish Marx WERE still alive. He would have some fairly strong words for current administration, I think.

ANYWAY. None of that is the reason I’m posting today. Of course, now I can’t *remember* why I’m posting today…OH YEAH.

SPEAKING OF BEING A DRUGGED-OUT JUNKIE (we were talking about opium, right? M’kay. Just making sure you’re still with me here), please review the following:

You can download this fine poster from http://iampaddy.com/spell/. I encourage you to do so.

This handy guide will lead you to be a more efficient communicator. A stronger speller. A better person. Chicks dig proper spelling. DUDES dig proper spelling. Seriously, if you want to get laid, start using words properly. In particular, I want to shout rather loudly about the “your/you’re” conundrum. And what a conundrum it is!

It seems a good 60% of people who claim they can read and write actually can’t!

Look. I want you to refresh yourself on contraptions. I mean, contractions. You know, when a little word like “are” has the leading ‘a’ slashed with a spelling machete. That little machete hangs above where the ‘a’ USED to be, showing the place where a machete tore out an ‘a’. That’s so that you know that when you come back to survey the damage, you remember there’s actually a poor letter missing.

So: ‘You are‘ is walking down a lovely street on a spring evening, and all of a sudden, the nefarious contraction stabber LEAPS OUT OF A SHRUBBERY and wields his or her heavy machete, cutting the ‘a’ out in its prime. **WE ALL MOURN THE ‘A’**. ‘You are’ has now become ‘You’re’ (see that machete hanging there, as if nothing happened!), and it’s trying to get on with its life, without its beloved ‘a’. It’s sad, really. But that’s the way it happens.

BEHOLD THE CONTRACTION. Learn it, love it, remember it.

One that isn’t on this list but ought to be is “Loose/Lose”.

Two ‘o’s went walking. They were in love; they were moony-eyed over one another. They held hands on the wharf. But a gust of wind came up off the water and knocked one ‘o’ off its feet. Being as their hands were wet, their grip was LOOSE and one of the ‘o’s slid, shloop, into the deep. Had poor ‘o’ been wearing gloves, its hand would not have come LOOSE.

LOOSE is an adjective. It tells you about the state of something (the doorknob is LOOSE).

LOSE is a verb. It does things. It DECLINES – Lose, lost, losing, etc.. It is the verb tense of “loss”.

They don’t even rhyme. LOOSE…you see how many ‘o’s there are there? See them staring at you? Ooooooo. Loooooooooos. Loooooooooooooooos!

Here’s the reason they don’t rhyme: In English (keep in mind that in English, there are rules that break other rules), when you have a vowel in the middle of a word, and an ‘e’ on the end of the word, the ‘e’ at the end of the word modifies the sound of the vowel in the middle. Remember the Electric Company’s “Silent E” song?

Terminal ‘e’ turns “fat” into “fate”, you see. It turns “Loss” into “Lose”.

In the case of ‘loose’, the terminal ‘e’ makes the ‘oo’ in the middle there say ‘oo’ rather than ‘uh’. Check it out:
Book – /b/uh/k/
Goose – /g/ oo /s/

Loss – /l/ ah /s/
Lose – /l/ oo /z/

(in advanced terms, the vowel sounds are also influenced by the presence of a specific kind of consonant after the double vowel, but let’s not get into that right now).

So. If you have experienced a LOSS (poor ‘o’, drowning out in the briny deep), use “lose”. If you have experienced WIGGLINESS, use ‘loose’.

And let’s just leave Karl Marx out of the equation for now.

  4 comments for “Something is the something of the someone.

  1. cenobyte
    8 February 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Also, I wasn’t trying to suggest that Marx wasn’t an atheist. I was saying that one oughtn’t use this quote as proof that he was. There are PLENTY of other passages one might quote if one wanted proof of that.

  2. Anonymous
    8 February 2010 at 8:55 pm

    “Religious suffering is the expression of real suffering and at the same time the protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

    Karl Marx: Master of Prose.

  3. Amy
    9 February 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I want to know when using “laying” instead of “lying” apparently became acceptable. Did we all turn into chickens without my noticing?

  4. Parmeisan
    19 February 2010 at 10:12 am

    Man, the one that really gets me (because aside from its/it’s, I see it the most often) is LEAD. It’s either a metal, or present tense. The past tense of lead is LED. Argh.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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