Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

The Oedipus Hex

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

The Oedipus Hex

Article excerpt

PAUL DENNITHORNE JOHNSTON [*]

NOW, AT LONG LAST, the mission to save Earth was truly underway. Dictator Mack E. O'Wally had ordered up the volunteers: the young clone Pang Lawws, Galactic cafe owner Dolly Darling, twin sisters Reggie and Veggie, and the gender-free person Heimloch Satorious.

The unhappy crew now gathered at a docking bay inside O'Wally's enormous Executive Space Ship My Air Force One. Here, a Semicompact Utility Vessel waited to take them to rendezvous with rogue asteroid 2202 Bluto, which was on a collision course with Earth.

O'Wally had decreed a press conference. Lenses, microphones, sniffers, feelers, and other holocaster sensors, looking much like the faces of pigs and jackals, focused greedily on our heroes. The dictator needed a good show. He especially wanted to irritate his nemesis, Lord BullJohn Croissant, CEO of EuroEngland Limited. O'Wally was CEO of America and Environs, and his outfit would save Earth, while the wimps at EuroEngland held another parliamentary debate.

O'Wally particularly hated BullJohn Croissant because, not only did Lord BullJohn own slightly more of the Earth and surrounding planetary space than O'Wally, he was also a legitimate aristocrat, a descendant of English and European Royal lineage with a certified family tree and several pages in DeBrett's Guide to the Peerage From Here to the End of the Universe. The mighty O'Wally had a very dubious background, which he had so far succeeded in covering up.

Long ago, O'Wally had given standing orders for his media empire to censor all news about Lord BullJohn and EuroEngland. Therefore, many citizens and clones under his domain did not know of the existence of this powerful economic bloc on the other side of Earth with its own collection of artificial planets orbiting above the continents that it owned.

As the press conference began, our heroes stood miserably beside Semicompact Utility [Vessel.sub.40479] on a platform decorated with flags bearing O'Wally's coat of arms (O'Wally had bought the copyright from the impoverished Earl of Oxford). O'Wally attempted a rousing speech but his heart wasn't in it because he felt so ill. He kept flashing hot and cold, and waves of nausea swept over him. O'Wally cut the ceremony short, ordered the travelers aboard, turned, and strode away before the smart hatch had shut itself.

Back in his quarters, O'Wally decided some golf might make him feel better, and he waved at a sensor to summon his current assistant, Euphram Refraser.

"Where's My Air Force Ten," [less than] CLICK HERE 1 [greater than] yelled O'Wally "I want to play golf."

[less than]1[greater than] The use of terms such as "My Air Force One," "My Air Force Two," etc., is an example of a general semantics technique called indexing, i.e., using index numbers to show the uniqueness of things and events that have a similar label or name. O'Wally had in fact banned general semantics because his advisors had said it encouraged better thinking, and possibly democracy. (If O'Wally had known he'd used something from general semantics, he'd have been furious enough to fire anyone who came into the room. Or worse.)

"My Air Force Ten is, ah, parked some distance away, ah, as you requested, Sir," said Refraser in a voice that sounded like someone gargling.

"Get it here. NOW! I want to play golf."

"It will take a day or so, Sir," said Euphram Refraser, trembling because for once he could think of no way to euphemistically say what he had to say.

"If that asteroid does collide with Earth, my assets won't be worth a plugged pickle," said O'Wally miserably. "Good thing I have a backup plan."

"You could re-categorize it as a safe asteroid," said Euphram Refraser. "It's small. You could name it The Toy Asteroid. That has a homey sound to it."

O'Wally jumped up. "You think changing the name of the damn thing will make it harmless? …

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