3.870 discipline etc.! (46)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 19 Dec 89 21:45:29 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 870. Tuesday, 19 Dec 1989.

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 89 09:59:18 EST
From: Steve Mason <SHLOMO@YORKVM1>
Subject: Avoidance of etc: a discipline?

The current discussion of etc seems to me to be one of those cases in
which all of the participants are right.

Those who have declared their abhorrence of the little rascal remind me
of my public-speaking teacher. His biggest challenge, I recall, was to
tame our wayward hands, which, if left to their own devices, became
seemingly autonomous. Driven by their own reserves of nervous energy,
these otherwise useful instruments hindered communication by assuming
the most inelegant positions. Some new speakers, unaware of the
problem, would allow their hands spontanteous freedom of movement; but
their speeches were as persuasive as a poorly dubbed martial arts flick.
Others among us were somehow aware of the problem, but our ineffectual
response was either to grip the podium with the tenacity of a woman in
labour or to stick the offending members emphatically in our pockets,
where they proceeded to twitch and fiddle with loose change.

All of these "beginners' faults" were ruthlessly exposed by our tutor.
His remedy? He insisted that, as a discipline, we cultivate the habit
of clasping our hands behind our backs, in the manner of British
royalty. We had, first, to be able to make our points without any use
of the hands whatsoever. Only after we were able to do so were we
permitted to retrieve *one* hand for some distinct and appropriate
gesture. Only rarely, for the most dramatic crescendoes, could we
display both hands.

It seems to me that etc is like an unruly hand. Many of us discipline
ourselves by removing it altogether from view. But surely we should
admire those who have broken the spirit of this little mischief-maker
sufficiently that they can, at will, pull it out for effective display
with perfect control,
Steve Mason
Division of Humanities
York University