December 15, 2003

By Michael Strickland

The "Strick" Dialogues

In a recent column about Letters to the Editor that I've received during this year of (mostly) daily writing, I briefly alluded to an email correspondence with a gentleman scholar named Simon Strick from Berlin, Germany. This individual postulated some erudite arguments concerning the semantics of "Strick"—particularly, "The Daily Strick." Though I confess some of them escaped my intellect, the earnestness of my philological friend Simon made an impression. In the interest of allowing him the fairness of a forum to express his views, I have posted the full text of our correspondence below. I'm sure both Simon and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this philosophical debate.

December 6

Dear Mr. Strickland!

I am sorry to say this, but I am really unhappy with the way you are using my name to promote your utterly conservative views. Regarding the fact that "strick" in german means also "death by hanging" (so the daily strick has connotations of "your daily death sentence") I strongly advise you to refrain from using my name as a "brand" and change your site's name to "the daily strickland" or what ever pleases your dubious convictions. Friends of mine have been very confused recently and I have faced major troubles explaining that I am not involved with the views promoted by the "daily strick". Since it is not your name anyway, please drop it. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

regards

Simon Strick
Berlin

 

My response:

Simon,

Thanks for writing in response to "The Daily Strick." If you truly consider my views "utterly conservative," then you have read few or none of my daily articles. As a recent example, read "Mantrimony": http://strick.net/blog/112003.shtml. My beliefs range from the far right to the far left, and fall right in the middle most of the time. Keep reading, and you'll discover this for yourself.

Obviously, your friends have not read closely either, as my name is displayed prominently at the top of every page. Difficult to confuse "Michael Strickland" with "Simon Strick." And if your friends think you're the only "Strick" in the world, and thus "The Daily Strick" must belong to Simon Strick, then they're likely confused about a great many other things too.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me. It often surprises me when I get a random email from people I don't know who have found my Web site one way or another. Glad to hear my writings have at least had some form of emotional impact.

Best regards,
Michael "Strick" Strickland

p.s. Thanks for telling me that "strick" also means "death by hanging" in German. That is an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know.

 

December 7

Dear Michael,

I can assure you my problem with your site has nothing to do with your political convictions or their assumed "emotional impact". To be honest, your views may range where they want to. My problem is one of nominal nature in the truest sense.

Your blog puts me to the most absurd situations, e.g. it implicates, that I am indeed not "the daily strick" myself, but somebody else. Am I not living daily? Is my existence confined to a weekly, monthly or even irregular basis, my body and person comin back and forth in a serialized apparition? Indeed, your site is making a nonsense of my person, as if I were an appearing thing of public interest. I can assure you that I have not only lived daily in the past 30 years, but indeed I have lived permanently, without interrupption or break. If you think, Stricks or persons in general should appear on a daily basis, you're up a very wrong track yourself. Your website puts me in metaphysical jeopardy.

Your argument that I am not the only Strick in the world for me is terribly absurd, for I sould not be able to live on the knowledge that I am interchangeable. One has assume oneself as an individual entity, which unequivocally is denoted by one's proper name. Could you take yourself seriously if you knew there were other Stricklands exactly like yourself? As I say, this would be metaphysical jeopardy.

But coming back to my initial argument, why do you use "Strick" instead of Strickland, your own proper name? Indeed a look at your website (The daily Strick, strick.net, etc) seems to indicate a systematic evasion of your own name. Despite the tautological result, you even have adopted it as your nickname. Why do you prefer my name over your own?

Also, I find it very offensive that you regard my request as just another "random email". You should be less sure of yourself, given that you are writing under a name that is not your own.

regards

Simon Strick

PS: You are getting me wrong: it is not "strick" that is connoted with death penalty (people would make endless fun of me then), but the expression "THE Strick" which implies death by hanging. I am very disappointed that you think of the german language and its meanings as a piece of "trivia". A writer like you should have higher regard for words and their connotations. Or do you consider the meanings of the words you use (and your site offers nothing but words) as mere accidental trivia?

 

My response:

Dear Simon,

You have my deepest and most humble apologies. I obviously understood little of the depth and breadth of the philosophical panic induced by my petty online ramblings. Wielding words like they were Tinker Toys, I had no conception of the danger that the (I hesitate to even type the title now) Daily Strick could cause from afar. Though I did understand that disbursing my opinions to the aether might mean they would reach as far as Deutschland and beyond, I did not realize their power to produce a metaphysical crisis.

Of course you are an individual entity. How could I possibly harness your being within the electronic confines of HTML code? A name is a powerful thing, but the mind more so. The very fact of my blog's temporal compartmentalization into diurnal segments proves its distinctness from you. As you most eloquently put, you "have lived permanently, without interruption or break" your entire life. My blog is neither permanent nor uninterrupted. In fact, its permanent, uninterrupted existence would be a paradox; for if I maintained it in such a continuous, ongoing flow of ideas and opinions, I would have no opportunity to get out, live life and form those opinions and ideas. Thus, it seems axiomatic to me that you and "The Daily Strick" are separate and unique.

Perhaps there is some truth in your conclusion that I wish to evade my own name, however. I am a scuba diver, and have always had an undying passion for swimming, sailing and all sports associated with the water. From that, then, might stem my apparent aversion for the terrestrial suffix of my name. But my logic might again be flawed; for then, would I not prefer the name "Strickwater" instead of simply "Strick"?

Such philosophical ponderings and metaphysical crises must remain unresolved for the time being. But, as before, I thank you for taking the time to share your most intriguing thoughts with me.

With warmest regards,
Michael STRICKLAND

 

December 9

Dear Michael,

irony then. but what does you irony mean, except that you find my "philosophical panic" (that's not what I said) absurd? I guess it says: "come on strick, lets be reasonable! let's not quarrel about names." The mind may be a strong thing, but in my opinion the internet is less an arena of the mind or reason than of names and words. I do know very little of your mind or your person, as you properly reminded me in your first email. That is unavoidable, because the internet is primarily the place of the nominal and the words we use might have effects we cannot predict, especially if they travel to such a remote place as germany (I can assure you, America is just as far away). Did you know that the American poet Nathaniel Mackey wrote a series of poems on the word "strick" and released a CD about it? For him the implications of "strick" range from the phonological neighbours like strike, struck, string, stick etc. to the metaphorical connotations like the death by hanging. It is a rhythmical, semantic and historical entity as he called it once. Now I do not subscribe to Mackey's convictions completely, but his work shows, that the word/name Strick is a complicated thing.

I am telling you this, because I would like to know, why you are using a name that is not your own and about which you know very few things - it must be completely arbitrary to you. If this last statement is true, you can of course only refuse my philosophical panic attack.

It is kind of you to accept my status as an individual entity. As such, I cannot accept the combination of my name (which by convention denotes my person) with an attribute such as "daily". You will agree with me that persons do not appear daily, except when they are fatally sick and the doctor tells them, that death may strike any day. Since I am reasonably healthy, I do not see how I can by any means be associated with a daily occuring. Of course you tell me, your blog and my person are not the same - why then does it carry that name, just as I do? Maybe I should have spoken about grammatical problems. But I learned that man exists as a being connected to and dependent on language in order to form his ideas - on himself, on nature, or that inbetween. And your site in my view shows one of the problems that arise, when the written ideas of different persons are suddenly globally connected - which words represent whose ideas?

perhaps crises must remain unresolved, but since it is my crisis, please leave that decision to me.

best
Simon

 

December 10

dear michael

i just discovered that i have already made an appearance in your daily blog (though i am heading every single entry) and will soon descent into the archives of the daily strick. the prophecy of the execution of strick has been fulfilled: for what is daily, must at some point become yesterdays news - dead and gone.

unfortunately you have not told your readers (including myself) about the arguments i put forth, however bizarre they might have seemed to you. now, as your reader, i am confronted with a story about a highly amusing gentleman and i know that your story forecloses the vital aspects of our debate, reducing it to mere trivia. of course, the daily is always trivial, and so is the daily strick. or did i not mention my arguments to you? i can hardly remember what i wrote to you - excuse my forgetfulness, but this happens when you are confined to a life in the "daily".

yours
simon

 

My response:

Dear Simon,

With your permission, I would be happy to post the full text of our email correspondence for my readership and the entire world (universe?). Perhaps someone who reads it will be able to better understand your arguments, for I confess they fly over my head (actually, as I understand them, they seem absurd, but to give you the benefit of the doubt, I am willing to consider the likelihood that they seem absurd because I don't understand them).

Regards,
Mike

 

December 13

dear mike,

sorry for answering so late, i'm busy with exams at the moment. i think it's a wonderful idea! our arguments will return to where they came from, words and the nominal. for you see, when you make my "case" a newsstory your readers will think i am a real person, except the reader Simon Strick, who finds himself reduced to a "story". But a complete post of your and my arguments is neither story, news nor case, it is a protocol, a literal documentation of something which may or may not have happened. Therefore please do post our little conversation, and I ask you only to present it in its entirety, including this (and maybe your following) mail. I think something has occured between our email-accounts, but let's leave it to the others to decide what it was.

Hope to hear from you soon and thanks very much for your initiative

best
Simon

 

©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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December Columns:

12/31: Happy New Year
12/29: Return of the Oscar King
12/28: The Year in Travel
12/26: Trial by Piranha
12/25: Merry Christmas
12/22: Red Squares
12/21: Havasu Falls
12/20: Last Will & Testament
12/19: Bah Humbug
12/16: Newsworthy
12/15: The "Strick" Dialogues
12/14: Animal-Animal
12/12: Old Memories
12/7: Letters to the Editor
12/5: Greed Strike
12/4: Another Day at the Office
12/3: The "Back" in Quarterback
12/1: Sixty-Four
Previous months in The Archive

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