Thursday, September 09, 2004

This is Not an Acorn

I don't know if all libraries are like this, but staff in my library love to put up signs. Sometimes it seems like there are so many signs, that you can't read the signs for the signs. My favourite sign is this one:

This is not a footrest.

This is a sign that has been put on a low-lying ledge of one of our microfilm readers. If you put your feet on it, you could break it, so the sign has a valid reason for existing. It's just such a silly sign!

I am easily bored (like every 10 minutes), and one of the many ways I cope is to create fake signs in my head, inspired by the non-footrest. My telephone: this is not a banana. The prow of the public information desk: this is not a bulkhead. Myself: this is not a librarian.

This sign story always reminds me of a short story that I read once in German. I can't remember who wrote it (maybe Argonaut remembers?), but it's so great. It's a story about a man who lives alone in a hermit-state, and for his own amusement one day, he decides to call the chair 'table'. That's so funny that he then starts to call the bed 'window'. And so on and so on, until one day everything has a different name than it once had. After a number of years of using the new names for these objects, he forgets the old names, and then one day he can't communicate with anyone. He becomes truly alone.

This is not a gratuitous philosophical musing.


Blogger argotnaut said...

That story sounds vaguely familiar, but I have no idea what it is.

Now I want to think of signs to put up everywhere . . .

12:22 pm  
Blogger minirich said...

I know the story. I read it in german but i can not remember what the title was.

3:39 am  

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