January 15, 2007

There's a silly joke slipped in
in passing John Dickson Carr's
"The Dead Man's Knock" (1958).

A character remarks in passing
"I observed, yes.  But I didn't see."
(p. 171).

This is a reversal, of the famous
Holmes remark "You have *seen*, but
you have not *observed*."

The point being -- I would say --
that you can use precisely opposite
language that has the same meaning.             DENOTE

  In the case of the Holmes remark, it establishes 
  a technical language, it creates precise meanings  
  for words that don't have them in ordinary usage,     
  and it does so without going through any explicit     
  set of definitions.                                   
  It draws a distinction between two                   
  elements, and makes it clear what is
  meant by both of them... but in
  another context, that distinction
  evaporates.  There's little inherent     If you don't watch what's going on
  in the conventional definitions that     with these implicit, temporary
  relates to the technical definition.     definitions you can get tangled up
                                           really easily, particularly if
                                           you're up against a sleazy debating
                                           partner looking for cheap-shots...