Because I value my cogntive capacities so highly — and because I recoil in morbid fear at the prospect of my brain being turned to oatmeal — I avoid local and network newscasts with the same fervent determination with which I avoid drinking myself into a coma while lying on railroad tracks. Nevertheless, in an attempt to keep up with the confusion about and the misinformation surrounding COVID-19, I tuned into a local newscast recently just in time to hear one of the … uh … anchors (truer terms were never coined) tell me I have to self-quarantine myself.
To be fair to this man, the discipline to which he’s likely self-applied himself most diligently in his intellectual life is his on-air makeup. So, it may not be fair to expect him to have any meaningful comprehension of the existential crises of healthcare, resources, and public policy by which we find ourselves presently troubled. Therefore, out of compassion for the poor nincompoop and with all the Christian charity I could muster, I decided to ponder exactly why he might have phrased what he said the way he did. Here’s what I came up with.
On the off chance that I might have sold the dude’s intellectual underpinnings a bit short, and going on my empirical supposition that he wasn’t a linguist by trade or training, I considered a number of other possibilities. They included, but were by no means limited to:
- An ontologist. Since ontology is the philosophical study of being in general, or of what applies neutrally to everything that is real, it seemed at least plausible (if not probable) that were the syntactically challenged rube an ontologist, he’d want me to self-quarantine. To cover his bases (or to allow me to cover mine), he’d also want me to self-quarantine myself just in case the me he wanted to self-quarantine were different from my other self, to which he referred as myself.
- A teleologist: Since teleology is a philosophy espousing explanation by reference to some purpose, end, goal, or function, I considered the possibility that morphologically inept chooch was so intent on achieving the end of having me quarantine myself, he told me to self-quarantine myself so that, in the event that I somehow managed to screw up self-quarantining, I’d have another shot at it by self-quarantining myself.
- An epistemologist. Since epistemology is a philosophical theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, it seemed at least fair to consider the possibility that the lexemically feeble oaf was so intent on quarantining as the method by which I would best protect myself and others from the spread of COVID-19 that he’d double down on the method by telling me to self-quarantine myself.
- A dumbass. While it made me somewhat uncomfortable to contemplate, I did have to allow for the possibility, however distasteful and unfortunate, that the dialectically impaired boob wasn’t a philosopher after all, was flying by the seat of his trousers, had no idea what the hell he was saying, didn’t even have brains enough to hire a functionally literate copywriter, and didn’t check the credentials or the trustworthiness of his teleprompter operator before he went on the air..
I Gave Up
In the end, I couldn’t decide which of those possibilities offered a feasible explanation for the grammatically hampered chucklehead’s dimwittedness. So, I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to self-decide for yourself.
In the meantime, I’ll be resuming my moratorium on the news and its inevitable adoption of Coronaspeak.