Thursday, November 4, 2010

pocketa pocketa queep

That's a well known literary allusion, in case you didn't know.

Ah, well, it was well known in that world now fading fast behind us; the one where children learned to read early, and learned to love exploring books.

It's from James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", a celebrated very short story about the large fantasy life of a nebbish. I became acquainted with it by reading my big brother's English textbook a few years ahead of time.

"A huge, complicated machine, connected to the operating table, with many tubes and wires, began at this moment to go pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. "The new anesthetizer is giving away!" shouted an intern. "There is no one in the East who knows how to fix it!" "Quiet, man!" said Mitty, in a low, cool voice. He sprang to the machine, which was now going pocketa-pocketa-queep-pocketa-queep . He began fingering delicately a row of glistening dials. "Give me a fountain pen!" he snapped."

Thurber found the "pocketa" sound highly useful, and applied it in quite a few situations.

"It's forty kilometers through hell, sir," said the sergeant. Mitty finished one last brandy. "After all," he said softly, "what isn't?" The pounding of the cannon increased; there was the rat-tat-tatting of machine guns, and from somewhere came the menacing pocketa-pocketa-pocketa of the new flame-throwers. Walter Mitty walked to the door of the dugout humming "Aupres de Ma Blonde." He turned and waved to the sergeant. "Cheerio!" he said. . . . "

It struck me yesterday, observing our elections here in the US, that noise seems to be the most certain aspect of our politics and discussions these days, and the most certain outcome.

And that our entire civilization has shifted, from going "pocketa-pocketa-pocketa", to going "pocketa-pocketa-queep".

My prediction, alas, is that pocketa-pocketa-queep is going to be the chief sound, and the sum total of our achievements, for some years ahead.

And, if you have a fountain pen, I don't think anyone has any idea what to do with it.


Aimee said...

I guess you could always stick it into your eyes to blind yourself to the horror when you just cant take it anymore.

knutty knitter said...

Walter Mitty never happened to come my way. Seems I have a bit of catching up here :) Just love that sound!

Especially the queep....

Which would be much less without the pocketa :)

Perhaps we could start a movement where all politicians have to express themselves in these words at all times. And be awarded the fountain pen if we think they deserve it.....after about a dozen meetings of the committee of course. With paper work in septuplicate. (I once had the job of filling out this number of forms - thats what I call a boring holiday job!)

Then nobody would have time to actually do anything and perhaps the rest of us could just keep living....well something like that anyhow.

The thing would be to make them seem important when they are really being ignored.

viv in nz

Greenpa said...

oh, Aimee. please don't stay that depressed! :-)

I'm working on getting out of it. Remember the words of our greatest philosopher, Monty Python- "Always look on the bright side of life."


and why that bit always makes me smile, I don't know; but it does.

Greenpa said...

viv- septuplicate!! gad. I think that's serious proof you're a survivor!

Dmarie said...

Enjoyed your post (good reminder of the TRUE cost of things) on Crunchy Chicken and jumped over to check out your site. Look forward to reading my way through. Thanks!

Maria Barker said...

Speaking of sounds...

"full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

Nothing except that "sound and fury" are the only things that seem to matter now? I find THAT significant!

historicstitcher said...

I loved Walter Mitty!!

And I love and use fountain pens regularly - they're fantastic for my painful hands...but when someone asks for a pen, and I hand them one, they invariably ask "What's this?"

And I always have to answer - "A pen."