I’ve been watching television shows with closed caption functions that make whispers audible and allow me to follow programs with no sound. On one television, the caption comes a little before the speech; on the other television, the caption is sometimes in sync with the lips, sometimes afterwards, sometimes skips sentences, frequently misspells or provides a guess word. I don’t believe a person is doing this, but I can’t understand how an electronic program could be. The most interesting, funny, and somewhat alarming captions reveal a politically correct censorship–inappropriate sequences of letters are removed even when they’re a necessary part of a larger, innocuous word. “Suspicious,” for example, is spelled like so: suxxxxious. I have always loved the English language (most languages, actually), the mystery and music of them, and the power, of course. Now the caption is a separate language within the one I know. I feel a subliminal instruction along with deconstruction. I’m so interested and amused that I follow the caption more closely than the show.
NewsThe Universe Playing Strings, a novel, recently released by the University of New Mexico Press. For details visit R. M. Kinder.