Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Funny how rearranging a couple of words in a single sentence can convey a meaning so different from its original form. Some times the difference is striking, often it is subtle but upon further analysis no less different. Perhaps sometimes even more, given the subtle but profound nuances that convey shades of meanings not initially revealed at first glance.

Take the phrase 'Nothing with you is forever' and juxtapose that with 'Nothing is forever with you.' At first glance, the former may appear more pleasing to the eye. More grammatically correct. But the two are different, convey different meanings. Subtle changes most clearly seen from the difference in emphasis and the implicit nuances arising from such a swap.

And you realise that the latter is of no less merit than the former. For what is conveyed is different and neither sentence is a perfect replacement for the other.

But not all words and their meanings or combined nuances change in the reshuffled sentence. Most do not. Some in fact are limited by the very nature of the word. After all, how many meanings/inflections can one impute to a word like 'not'? The word 'Nothing' and its meaning remains constant in both sentences.

Nothing with you is forever. That, to my mind at least, emphasises the words 'with you'. Nothing remaining nothing, the nuances and impression conveyed is that 'nothing (I do/feel/think about) with you is forever'. Everything is temporal, transient. Like a passing breeze.

The emotions evoked are one of mild wistfulness, resignation and grudging acceptance of the seeming demise of a futile dream. A negative connotation, realistic, even pragmatic to an extent but sad nonetheless.

Then look at Nothing is forever with you. The emphasis this time to my mind appears to be on 'is forever'. Not to say the term 'with you' is unimportant or secondary. The emphasis is on the terms 'is forever' and the words with you follow after.

Just like the flesh is formless without the bones but fleshes it out and makes it whole, so too does the emphasis set the skeleton for the phrase with 'with you' fully defining the phrase thereafter.

'Nothing is forever' with you. And the nuances conveyed, the impression given is that nothing, the things we do, you say, we think, I feel, we express when with you is forever, constant, unchanging, fixed in stasis. It evolves, grows, changes with time, commitment and our actions. Where and how they will develop is anyone's guess but ours to decide.

We could talk of more permutations. Of how a single comma could paint the phrase a toxic taint of cynicism. (Nothing, is forever with you) Or from further rearrangements, construct an aloof observation (With you, nothing is forever).

But that was never the aim of this soliloquy.

And what's certain is:

Nothing is forever with you. Forever is nothing without you.

No comments: