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July 14, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 91

DAY 91: La chiacchierata, that's a chat
about nothing in particular, less is more,
S.I. Hayakawa, my lousy university president
then lousy state senator, but a decent scholar
had a useful linguistic theory -- pre-symbolic language,
meaninglessness, words that don't stand
for anything, could just as well be grunts and
cooing, could be a language no one under-
stands, therefore we -- especially well-educated
white men over 50 -- stupidly maintain its
uselessness -- la chiacchierata doesn't serve
any communicative purpose, so we will not
participate -- Oh, but Hayakawa shows that
it does! The meaning behind meaningless
words is the most important of all --
community-building, relationship-building
-- I grunt and coo, I talk about what a shame
and where you been and did you see the game
-- I mean I like you maybe -- I want us
to be friends maybe -- even with neighbors
I don't like, even people I'd never choose ...
I must engage, in a chiacchierata, talking
from one balcony to another, from behind
masks or downstairs by the cars -- Italians
need this like air, they know that when
100,000 souls die and rise we'll need our
neighbors, even those with whom
we only ever talked with
about nothing at all
just to find the courage
to bear witness.