Digital Ischemia

22/07/2018

Eradicating It

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
There’s a reason this phrase is often parodied. Best by Snoopy. But that’s not exactly my issue.

What is ‘it’? A non-gender-specific pronoun. We should use ‘it’ when there is preceding context identifying a subject. Otherwise the reader or listener will be stranded on a sandbank, caught up in wondering to what we refer. The subsequent narrative won’t make sense.

Ah, but, you say, ‘it’ has become a grammatical placeholder for the subject, so we can reorder the words, or simply form a sentence. It’s raining. What is ‘it’? A cloud? The sky? The weather? A grammatically correct construction for an intransitive verb. ‘It’ doesn’t do rain to anything, ‘it’ just rains. ‘It’ is semantically redundant. ‘It’ is not even context. ‘It’ is a waste of characters. Since we’re evolving language anyway, particularly in speech, let’s just say ‘raining’. Or ‘rain’.

The night was dark and stormy. Is that any less poetic? Less gripping? Is the word order critical? Sequence of images? But now I take issue with ‘dark’: dark night is a pleonasm, like small dwarf or toxic poison. Like beginning a letter “I am writing to you…” I may be overthinking ‘it’. Did the writer mean moonless? That would be atmospheric.

The night was stormy. Admittedly that has less impact. But we could add any of a plethora of other adjectives instead of dark to set the scene. Not even fancy ones, just a simple, menacing term. But I’ve wandered away from my trivial tirade.

English is brilliant, eh? Six words at least that mean the same in any instance – oh, aye: synonyms. Six ways to say anything.
It was a dark and stormy night.
The night was a dark and stormy one.
The night was dark and stormy.
The night was moonless and stormy.
That night was moonless and stormy.
The moonless night was stormy.

There must be a label for these different sentence forms. But why start learning grammar now?

More motivating is what to call my crusade; what motto for my revolution. Rule one of attitudinal change is be for something, not against. Be pro-peace, not anti-war. Give your energy to that which you wish to see, not to the state you oppose, otherwise you perpetuate ‘it’.

I do not discuss any current political leaders who are anathema to me; I do not protest their visits. I suspect they enjoy any sort of attention, in the worst tradition of narcissistic PR. I say give the airtime to events we want to encourage. I use my small fizzle of power to support that which I endorse. I buy products from countries with progressive politics.

So I’m not anti-it, I’m pro-specific-subjects. Aye, that’s gonna look great on my banner.

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