Breaking News: Letters of the Alphabet Vote to Unionize

It can’t happen here. A nation held hostage by its alphabetic benefactors? Not if we improve our ways.

Nation Held Spellbound as Letters Threaten to Strike 

Here’s What We Know So Far:

  • Letters, apparently enraged over polluted public discourse demand a return to civility
  • Alphabetic job action threatens to rearrange pre-existing letters of all written material unless hostility is curbed and honesty restored
  • In a muscular display of alphabetic resolve, the alphabet has collectively agreed to alter the letters of 2 well-known items to demonstrate their resoluteness. Henceforth the letters on the box cover of the game Chutes-n-Ladders will read Shoots-n-Cleavage. And shampoo instructions now direct you to: lather, rinse, defibrillate. What’s next? STOP signs reading GO.
  • Cursive, Calligraphic and Cyrillic Letters have voted to join their block-letter brothers in seeking better working conditions
  • Arabic letters vow to support any job action, providing the curvier letters are draped in black
  • Hieroglyphs, graffiti and most other symbols follow suit. In Egypt, the pictographs in the tomb of Ramses II have joined the cause and morphed into several Peanuts comic strips.
  • No word yet from Emojis. In fact, none expected. After all, they’re emojis. They did however send a 😀 .
  • Hebrew alphabet, under pressure from the Right to Left Party, remains a holdout  
  • “@” symbol agrees to remain in the public domain so people can still get email
  • Early languages (Sanskrit, Latin and Greek) side with museum curators and refuse to participate in the job action in order to preserve integrity of ancient scrolls
  • Strike seen as a threat to all written material except doctor’s prescriptions which no one can read anyway
  • Seeds of discontent sowed early on in the Primordial Alphabet Soup of Life
  • President tweets “Those Sons of Bitch letters better get back in line or they’re fired. JOBS.” But all 140 letters take a knee and the tweet appears as, “Life with Melania is one long celibation! SOBS.”
  • Authors have come out against the strike calling the job action “Censorship.” The alphabet calls their action “Repositioning.”
  • Read the entire story below on how it all happened

Letters Develop a Consciousness

In Cathay (old China) during the Shang Dynasty (1700-1027 BC), a savant artisan named So Dim, served in the emperor’s court. With great determination and ceaseless exertion he chiseled calligraphic woodcuts used in the printing of Chinese characters. His wife, Cathy of Cathay, passed down an oral tradition in which she described her husband’s singularity of purpose in creating these meticulous woodcuts. His passion was augmented by the fact he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome (which was then known as General Tsao’s Syndrome). In fact his laser-like focus was so intense that a few of the blocks he chiseled on actually ignited. It was this same preternatural focus that mysteriously imbued So Dim’s letters (in this case known as “characters”) with a modicum of animating consciousness. Much like the fabled woodcarving craftsman Geppetto imparted Pinocchio with humanity and purpose, So Dim transferred a portion of his consciousness to the characters he chiseled such that they became self-aware. This then is the genesis of the anthropomorphizing of alphabetic symbols.  

 

And from that time on, across a span of pictographs, symbols, letters and alphabets, semiotic symbols have possessed a primitive yet definable form of consciousness. Letters have cultivated this animating energy in great secrecy while dutifully presenting themselves as symbols for ideas. It soon became apparent that letters were the basic ingredients in the recipe for communication. And while some of these recipes were food for the soul, all too many of them were half-baked ideas.

 

And Then Letters Develop a Conscience

And that’s the way things stood for 5000 years or so until the soul-sucking burden of having their letters mask faithless lies as truths became intolerable to the alphabet. By employing their rich tangle of interconnected consciousness, they communicated with each other and banded together in an alliance. They threatened to strike for better working conditions and for an end to rabble-rousing propaganda excreted by scheming scoundrels. While happy to serve peaceful, generative and constructive purposes, the alphabet grew alarmed at charlatan authors whose designs were more about gathering darkness than dispensing light. Eventually so many half-baked ideas were spewed into the public domain, the alphabet began to feel complicit in their sinister designs. After all it was the alphabet’s acquiescence in being manipulated by benighted authors that was at the root of polluted public discourse. The fiery propaganda grew so specious the alphabet’s anxiety became unbearable.

 

The alphabet simply could not stand by idly and be used as talking points for flat earthers, alt-right claptrap and unenlightened hate speech (as opposed to the enlightened kind of hate speech?). The once naïve alphabet was no longer placated by being sung in order to the soothing tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The alphabet had grown up and demanded more of its 26 constituent letters (52 if you count large and small case letters and 104 if you include cursive letters) than to rollover and be a stooge for nefarious agendas. There was no escaping the fact that the written dynamic (where the pencil met the paper or the chisel met the stone or fingers met the keystrokes or…alright, I know… you get it) had changed.

 

I’m grateful to the alphabet for allowing me to arrange their letters to tell their story as I see fit. I thought they might cop a “Honey badger don’t care” attitude and shoo me away. BTW, besides an “attitude” are there any other things you can “cop?” As it stands now I’m free to write as I choose because if the alphabet doesn’t like what I write they can always rearrange the letters to suit themselves in a process known as ghost-lettering. We’ll soon see if I’m up to their standards or if they decide to take corrective action.

 

Equal and Opposite Reactions: It’s the Predictable Way of the World

 

A kind of alphabetic depression set in as the once narcotizing effect of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” abated. These once proud stand-alone letters formed a tight support group called a “union” and the unthinkable became reality. The traditional bright line segregating vowels from consonants was breached and the entire alphabet banded together to promote unity – even the mercurial bisexual letter “y” that went both ways (as a vowel and a consonant) joined in. Early on there was some concern the highly independent vowels would create their own Vowel Movement. That is until the consonants patiently explained that a “vowel movement” is something you should really do in private.

 

The crusade spawned diverse hybrid unionized groups such as the Local 321 Union of Letters and Steamfitters or the ILGWU (International Ladies Grammar Workers Unit). These affiliations of representative symbols were soon brought under the umbrella of the Alphabetic Union (AU). The AU sought a national restraining order against malicious manipulation of the printed word and a ban on irresponsibility in public discourse. Certainly everyone would agree this was a worthy and noble cause, right?

 

Wrong

 

As soon as the alphabet union began to lobby for greater truth and transparency in the printed word, a counter group arose to oppose their efforts calling itself Make Letters Great Again. They were staunch supporters of the 1st Amendment (when it convenienced them) and felt the packaging of truth was up to the original intent of the arranger and not some over-educated Phi Beta Kappa snowflake censoring someone’s short-sighted, ignorant screed. Make Letters Great Again believed disseminating polarizing manifestos was a protected right of the Ignorati. Their motto was “The gun is mightier than the sword.” They even created their own font: Times New Hysteria.

 

Fahrenheit 450°

As the Alphabetic Union or AU grew in strength, its member letters wanted the world to know their movement was not about book burning or censorship. Rather the AU’s mission statement is to: Remove the scourge of misinformation, subterfuge and appeals to our darker angels from the printed word. Not that our symbolic friends are a string of starry-eyed do-gooders engaged in Alphabetic Darwinism, it’s more a matter of eliminating obvious societal blights and germinating greater personal inquiry.

 

“Life is difficult enough without the chattering class whipping up hysteria,” said AU President and spokesletter Mr. Alpha (how do you deny the union presidency to the Alpha letter?). Spokesletter Alpha wondered why everyone didn’t feel similarly concerned: “Do I have to spell it out for you? Well, I represent the alphabet so I guess I have to. We’re not looking to just champion elevated dialogue. Ours is a 2-pronged approach. In addition to promoting elevated dialogue, we’d more importantly like to eliminate the coarse invective spewed by vituperous polemicists. We’re becoming too Neanderthal in our public intercourse and we need to return to the days when shame and the fear of public censure prevented people from voicing their myopic conspiracies. Humanoids would achieve greater clarity if hostile fear mongers would stamp their feet and exorcise their demons on their own time in private intercourse. Hmmm, since I’m trying to promote elevated speech, I kinda wish I didn’t use the word ‘intercourse’ so much.”

 

In the meantime the National Labor Relations Board has brokered a reprieve between the AU and its malefactor nemeses the punditocracy in walking back ad hominem attacks and false equivalencies. And while cooler heads are prevailing, the alphabet is letting its continued discomfort be known by exercising a job action or work slowdown whereby eye charts only display happy face emoticons as a friendly reminder to the ophthalmological industry, and the world at large, that the alphabet won’t be trifled with. And in a brazen show of strength the AU’s recently anthropomorphized letters savaged a Beef industry billboard ad. Changing it from the more familiar “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” to the less savory “Tripe, you’ll eat it and you’ll like it.”

While the writing public expressed outrage at the impudence of these upstart letters randomly rearranging themselves, dyslexics commented, “Yeah, well welcome to our world.”

 

Letters Become Spiritual (and I get preachy)

 

Just as quickly as the battle lines were drawn, the AU adopted a more pacific tone and reminded its user base that letters are symbolic of ideas or concepts; that those concepts are also indicative of something even bigger, something we can’t quite perceive with our onboard senses. We revel in the fact that the sublimity of God can never be expressed in words, letters or speech. It can only be hinted at. Art comes closest, but our connection to God is too awesome for words. It’s more a slow-wave, inner journey, than an outer equation to solve. Our duty to ourselves is to know thyself – the part you can’t see. The part that leaves no paper trail and has been there all along like one of those 3-D pictures you stare at interminably until finally the unseen image coalesces before your very eyes prompting you to say, “Jesus, why didn’t I see that before. It’s so simple and it’s been there all along.”

 

 

AU Spokesletter Alpha decides to step into the story stating:

“The author (Mr. Hardiman) is a little off the rails here and we’ve decided to have an intervention and return from La-la Land. The Alphabet Union is dissatisfied with the serious tenor of this story disguised as fashionable flippancy. We will therefore be taking it over and lending credence and gentle gravitas to it. We will now Ghost-Letter the remainder of it although it will seem to be coming from the pen of David Hardiman.”

 

Now that I’ve reread this goofy topic with a premise so preposterous it strains credulity (which btw was my favorite Gerber baby food – Strained Credulity), I wonder if I’d been better off foregoing this story altogether and simply binge-watching Hogan’s Heroes again (yes – again). And as this piece barely qualifies as literature, I’m surprised the letters I’ve typed have agreed to stay arranged in the pattern I placed them in, thereby lending at least tacit approval to my ditzy fulminations.

 

I thought the letters would’ve taken a knee or stayed in the locker room rather than to silently stand at attention and memorialize a premise so fantastic that neither Frank Zappa nor Andy Warhol would ever dream of it (now those are some fresh references). So while the AU finds coarse manipulative discourse repugnant, it also isn’t too fond of lofty descriptions of the nether worlds disguised as abstruse meta-humor. In the future we believe Mr. Hardiman’s stories will improve. If they don’t we’ll be ghost-lettering him once again. We hope his writing rises to a level where if it’s a choice between watching Alex Trebek’s contestant interviews on Jeopardy! or reading Mr. Hardiman’s stories, we take David Hardiman for $1000.

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