html 101: hypertexts’ meta-language – keys to deciphering the “code” used to pack and unpack our knapsacks —

May the discourse be with you.
– Rick Kilpatrick

Clipped: (202) 555-2121 KIT – benched in the dugout, Hans looks up from his phone and nods quick acknowledgement of his buddy, Ed, just in from right field. Angling the screen toward Ed, Hans shows him Becky’s message. “What up?” asks Ed. Hans answers with a question of his own, “What’s kit mean? Does she want me to call her?” Ed enlightens Hans, “Dude! She texted you her number! And it’s not kit, it’s K-I-T… means keep in touch.” Still unsure of the subtext, Hans asks again, “So does she want me to call her or what?”

Bites: Unaware that his good buddy, Ed, had been already talking with Becky, Hans sits in the dugout next to Ed, pinching his ball cap between this thumb and forefinger, absent-mindedly using his third finger to scratch his scalp and gaping at his cell’s touch screen. Meanwhile, (back at the ranch) our boy Ed, intent on “reaching out” and actually “touching someone,” scribbles his next message to her in his notebook:

somewhere i have never traveled gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me
or which i cannot touch because they are too near  (cummings 1-4).

Two friends sit on the bench in the dugout, thigh to thigh,


"Nude Descending Staircase, No. 2" (1912) Marcel Duchamp. Oil on canvas.

one flanking the “North rim” of the Grand Canyon, one facing south, both of them attempting to navigate the Colorado River sandwiched in the rift betweenI ♥ u and “somewhere i have never traveled gladly beyond any experience” — Can you feel me now?

Scarcely held together with heavy-duty packing tape, my copy of e. e. cummingsa selection of poems (with an introduction by Horace Gregory) would have disintegrated long ago if not for the heft of the 3M Scotch brand. After my initial reading of cummings’ selections, I began driving all of my teachers insane by using the uncapitalized “i” and taking liberties with punctuation, only to be told that only published poets (as opposed to aspiring thirteen year-old girls) had that kind of [poetic] license.

Nonetheless, it was the language itself that drew me back in, and sucker-punched me every time. Of course, at thirteen I read these lines in terms of concrete “touching” – and thought long and hard on how a thing could be too near to touch. As I grew older and less “sophisticated,” the implications of abstraction drew first light, and in facing down the hurdles to apprehending my own psyche, I began to understand and appreciate mister cummings’ statement in a whole new way. Let’s face it, I’d been baited.

Then switched – my appetite for cummings forged a neat segue into all sorts of contraband (I like to think of his work as sort of a “gateway” poetry) – delicious new ways to use language comes in a variety of savory flavors, giving us and our language fresh ingredients with which to code and decode our connections to one another. The goal isn’t the elusive “finish line,” it’s the “pursuit of happiness” completed through the “hard work of conversation” that starts with an invitation from another person:

Keep in touch,


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Pam on January 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Wonderful, Anne!


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