Allusion (ə-ˈlü-zhən): A reference/representation of/to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art . . . “a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage”. It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection . . . ; an overt allusion is a misnomer for what is simply a reference.
I was floating in my hot tub, when I remembered once when I was in a bar in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Two men beat the crap out of each other in a dispute over what “four score a seven years ago means.” One of them actually believed “score” was a reference to Lincoln’s drug dealing, a sort of bookkeeping strategy for tallying sales for the past seven years. The other guy believed “score” was a cryptic message to the Freemasons, referring to the lines etched into bricks to break them neatly to size: four score referring to the four points of the compass etched in a sacred brick, and “seven years ago” as the last time the Freemasons had built a pyramid.
Even though it was clear that neither of the men had read the “Gettysburg Address” (that was clear from their interpretations) both of them developed, and fought over, the completely bogus and crazy opposing positions they took.
As he was being wheeled out of the bar on a stretcher with a swollen bleeding nose, a fractured elbow, and a neck brace, I asked one of the men where he got his ideas from. He snapped back, struggling under the stretcher’s restraints: “From my head, jackoff. This is America, I can believe what I want to believe. You, or nobody else can tell me what to believe!” At that point, I wanted to call Scotty and beam up, back to sanity land.
Anyway, the memory of the event scared me all over again. Is it true that the will to believe is all the reason that’s needed to believe—that the lunatics in the Harpers Ferry bar had a right fight it out over their conflicted interpretations?
I climbed out of my hot tub, donned my spa towel, and headed for the liquor cabinet. I filled a water glass with Johnny Walker Black, went to my bedroom, put on my pajamas, and picked up Umberto Eco’s “Interpretation and Overinterpretation” from the nightstand next to my bed. I had some reading to do, but would I get the meaning right?
1. Phonetic transcription courtesy of Miriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allusion <3/6/08>.
2. Definition courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allusion <3/6/08>.
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