Monday, January 14, 2013

Cylindrical Mammal


      Before going on to wax lyrical upon his prodigious capacity to tunnel, a prelude to Mole description often includes, "small cylindrical mammal adapted to a subterranean life style."  Quite why the cylinder in this context suggests charm and good natured chubbiness, I'm not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with that sound of an emptying bathtub which the conjunction of the word "life" with "style" appears to emit. And it's this sort of offhand and slip shod uniting of "Mole" and "cylindrical mammal" from an apparently spaced out observer that inspires the 'con-linguist' toward an idea that language is fundamentally flawed, because it's like commencing a description of Hitler with the words, "characterized by mustache that's no longer fashionable."  All very well, but at the same time so sadly inadequate as to appear deliberately manipulative.

       I do understand the importance of sensitivity, and I have been well trained by the professionals to render all creatures equal, at least in their introduction, or prelude, because at the birth of any idea there should be granted an assumption of innocence.  We are a stew of being under brighter stars, though quite why anyone might learn to think a mustache cute, I do not want to know.  But if a person is able to describe a Mole as a "small cylindrical mammal" without first having entered some sort of catatonic trance of indifference, then very certain that over time the word "cylinder" will develop meaning that places the word "cylinder" up there with "botulism,"  "bankers" and "corporate executives."   My own preference would be to begin a description of a Mole this way, "Unlike a Panda which also has twelve digits....." and then proceed directly to Mole saliva, which contains a far from sporting hornet like toxin that paralyses great numbers of earthworms, which are then hoarded by Moles in cavernous subterranean larders. 


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