Friday, October 25, 2013

Five Years Ago: Almost Bay Along It, We'll be Out of the Earth Special

Five Years Ago in The Infinite Art Tournament!

Back to the treasure trove that is the IAT vaults this Friday for a classic post that certainly deserves a second look, and besides will tide me over a busy spell at work!

From time to time there will be a fad here in the United States of America to plaster characters from Asian languages all over our leisure clothing. By tradition, the wearer will neither know nor care what the characters mean; the point is only that they look exotic and more or less stylin' upon one's chest or thigh. A few of us will fret about the intellectual vacuity of this sartorial choice, but nobody cares what we think.

Well, it goes both ways. All over the world, people express their contempt for the Anglo-American cultural hegemony by sporting T-shirts on which our beloved mother tongue is contorted into strange and surreal forms. These shirts embody a postmodernist's contempt of the simplistic notion that language can convey precise "meaning." The sole message they bear is rather that coherence is an illusion -- that concepts and states of mind can at most only be extracted from the medium of written language in the form of vague gestures and allusions. Or, as the shirt of a young Russian gentleman I met recently had it,
Almost bay along it
We'll be out of the Earth special
Occasional L&TM5K Commenter Heatherbee has of late been sojourning in the countries of Asia, and took time out from studying traditional Korean drumming techniques to investigate the T-shirt phenomenon. Here, brought to you with the kind help of her mother, is a sampling of her collection.

"Have French toast!!" was worn with panache by Mrs.5000 for one outing, at which point it shrunk alarmingly.  Subsequently, it came into the possession of Niece #4, who was at the time a little girl.  She was adorable in it, but then she's adorable in anything.

In conclusion, if you only remember one piece of T-shirt wisdom, it might well be this one:
Brighten the corner where you are
Water is Life
Every Drops of Water are Value

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