If you can read this you're too close T-Shirt

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If you can read this you're too close T-Shirt

If you can read this you're too close T-Shirt

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inverted commas.” Imagine how difficult it would be to express the statement “‘inverted commas’" (that is to say, the phrase “inverted commas” surrounded by . . ,1) by wiggling our fingers. Especially if the conversation were literally (so to speak) AngloAmerican—that is, between an Anglo on the one hand (so to speak), and an American on the other. The British, of course, use (’) to mean (”). One fellow claims he even knows the message stencilled on the flying saucer. It says “If you can read this you’re too darn close… to knowing a top military secret.” There is evidence that Dorothy Parker did present this saying as an epitaph for herself. This information emanated from Lillian Hellman who was a long-time friend of the writer, and who acted as her controversial literary executor. Hellman delivered a memorial speech after Parker’s death during which she asserted that Parker desired a gravestone with the following message:

The curiosity of a motorist on a country road was aroused by the lettering, too small to read, on the spare tire of a car ahead. Anxious to know what it said, he put his foot on the accelerator and read: “If you can see this you are too darned close for comfort.” We!?” exclaims the English-speaker, unable to imagine what this small, nasty Frog can think the two of them have in common.One of the problems rigorous Quoism runs into, incidentally, is the impossibility, to date, of italicizing a period. Demincement also raises the question of “pain.” In Anglo-American print, it is unclear whether “pain” (or “’pain’”) is being italicized for emphasis or to show that it is French. For instance: My secretary read the first few thousand words and announced “I wouldn’t have that book in my house!” I said “you’re throwing it away!” She said “Certainly not … I’m keeping it in the office.” She’s reading the stories at her desk with a sign behind her that says “If you’re reading this you’re too darn close.” It was the great advance of Hercule Demincement, in his pioneer work Quoi qua ‘Quoi,' to show that even to say “Wh . . .” (“Qu . . .”) is to assume too much.2 Since then we have tended to speak of “ ‘What,’ ” for argument’s sake, as '"Quoi?” and of the work of Demincement and his followers as Quoism.3 Once she said to me — I quoted it at her funeral and found to my pleasure, as it would have been to hers, that the mourners laughed — “Lilly, promise me that my gravestone will carry only these words: ‘If you can read this you’ve come too close.'”

Demincemenr’s title is drolls resistant to citation, even by a Frenchman, because even in Fiance, “qua,”qua Latin, should be set in reman (not to be confused with roman) within u title reference, since it is italicized outside title references. But if you don’t italicize the middle word of a three-word title that is bardic conventionally titular-looking to begin with, then what—as Demincement might put it —do YOU have? But maybe You spoke only French. Then he may have said, “Je suis You.” “You are fou,” a speaker of both languages, who assumed that You, too, was bilingual, may have replied. In print You might have cleared up the matter by writing (we’re speaking of French print now), “Pas ’you,' ‘You.”5 But You appears—in engravings of the period6— to have been illiterate. Hellman’s remark about Parker was discussed in her memoir. It also appeared in publications in 1968 and 1969. Detailed citations are given further below. A driver of a motor car In Washington, Pa., while trailing a small coupe, noticed very small letters on the spare tire covering. Anxious to know what was being advertised, he drove close enough to read the inscription, which said: “If you can read this you are too darn close.”Delivered by mistake but to great applause bciore the International Polymer-Polypeptide Congiess last year In Kcw. In conclusion Lillian Hellman’s testimony in her memoir indicated that Dorothy Parker probably did suggest using the humorous epitaph on her own gravestone. However, the joke was already in circulation by the 1920s, and its creator was anonymous. Over the decades the location of the saying moved from automobiles, to coats, to flying saucers, to offices, and to graveyards. Dear Quote Investigator: The witty author Dorothy Parker was once asked to suggest an epitaph for her tombstone. Over the years she crafted several different candidates, and I am interested in the following saying which can be expressed in multiple ways: Experts consider it unlikely that literature, “itself,” will ever catch up. Indeed, a consensus is growing, among the toughest-minded of a new generation of Quoists, that literature—not to mention, as Demincement has put it, ” ’literature,’ ( quote[single quote (quote-unquote) unsingle quote unquote)” ‘" -is an illusion. Behind it stood our little force— None wished it to he greater; For every man was half a horse And half an alligator.4

Death could be funny, the funniest thing about it being the world’s fear of it. She amused Mr. Benchley by thinking up epitaphs to embellish her own tombstone, such as “This is on me,”“Excuse my dust,” and “If you can read this, you are standing too close.”WHAT DO WE speak of when we speak of “literature”? Before beginning to “answer” that question, we must ask another question: “What do we speak of when we speak of‘What’?” This is itself a peculiarly written question, since it cannot be asked in conversation without leading to this sort of thing: “What?”

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