Archive for November, 2010

What is Ada Hiding?

November 19th, 2010  |  Published in idiocy, music, whoopi-goldberg

Eisegetical Idiocy

Like any self-respecting American Twentysomething with a beard and plastic-framed glasses, I listen to a lot of The National. I got to thinking about the opening lyrics to Ada, one of my favorite songs of theirs:

Ada don’t talk about reasons why you don’t want to talk about reasons why you don’t wanna talk.

So there is a set of reasons R1 why Ada doesn't want to talk, and she doesn't want to talk about these reasons R1 for (possibly) different reasons (call these separate reasons R2). Matt Berninger is earnestly entreating Ada not to talk about reasons R2.

So, naturally, I got to thinking about what the hell R1 and R2 could be. Some options:

    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: Blackmailed by Russians.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: The Russians will break her kneecaps.
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: Her throat is very sore.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: It is sore because she yelled at the TV too much while Perfect Strangers reruns were playing.
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: When she talks, she is is invariably reminded of her childhood dog Scruffers (she would spend hours each day imagining Scruffers talking, thereby creating an indelible mental association between her childhood pet and the locutionary act in general).
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: That is incredibly, incredibly embarrassing.
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: She has taken a vow of silence as a sign of religious devotion.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: Her religion is "Whoopi Goldberg."
    • R1: Reason she doesn't want to talk: She cannot have a conversation that does not result in her yelling furiously about Lizard People and Freemasons.
    • R2: Reason she doesn't want to talk about these reasons: If she were to talk about this she may have to confront her Problems.

WELL, this ended up being a lot more autobiographical than I thought it would. Whoops.

(Sidenote: this demonstrates, of course, the fundamentally recursive nature of language. The sentence

Ada don’t talk about reasons why you don’t want to talk about reasons why you don’t wanna talk about reasons why you don't want to talk.

is perfectly valid, as is

Ada don’t talk about (reasons why you don’t want to talk about)^n reasons why you don't want to talk.

for any nonnegative integer n. The National has supplied us with a roundabout proof that there are an infinite number of valid sentences in the English language!)