Everyone is trying to figure out the 22-year-old gunman who killed and maimed all those people this weekend in Tucson, Arizona. Of special interest to me is how Jared Loughner’s fixation with grammar and punctuation has now been traced to the bizarre theories of David Wynn Miller, who prefers to be known as : David-Wynn: Miller because, according to him, by adding specific punctuation like colons and hyphens to one’s name, one can be transformed from a human into a “preposition phrase” that cannot be taxed by the government.
The 62-year-old former tool-and-die maker from Milwaukee writes in his website: “I use prepositional phrases, through punctuation, which is classified as hieroglyphics, which makes me a life, l-i-f-e. Now, when you don’t punctuate your name … David is an adjective, Wynn is an adjective, Miller is a pronoun. Two adjectives are a condition of modification, opinion, presumption, which modifies the pronoun, pro means no on noun. So therefore, I’m not a fact. I’m a fiction.”
Although I’ve been teaching the use of good grammar and proper punctuation to college students for nearly 40 years, I don’t pretend to understand any of : David-Wynn: Miller’s theories. He claims he does not advocate violence anywhere in his writings, but someone like Jared Loughner, who has been reading him (as well as Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, Animal Farm and Brave New World), seems to spell government relief not with TUMS but with GUNS!!!???
All I can think of now is this poem by e.e. cummings:
pity this busy monster,manunkind,
not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victum(death and life safely beyond)
plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born-pity poor flesh
and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical
ultraomnipotence. We doctors know
a hopeless case if-listen:there’s a hell
of a good universe next door;let’s go
Maybe I’m too much of a hippy, but I’m really of the camp that intolerance re: grammar is just another form of intolerance… and, yeah, my job requires that I point out grammatical missteps to people, but I’m not always comfortable doing it & my grammar is far from perfect S. E. E… so I feel like a bit of a hypocrite when I do…