Under standing

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As we start a new year, and yet another election-reversal case is dismissed for lack of "standing", it's appropriate (or at least amusing) to revisit what Herbert Brün once wrote about (some other senses of) standing and understanding:

Not many people know how passionately dedicated they are to the society which they can not stand. Unaware of their living in contradiction they live in conflict.

Not many people know how passionately dedicated they are to the society which can not stand them. Unaware of their living in conflict they live in contradiction.

Nobody can stand not being stood.

Nobody wishes to admit that.

Everybody, therefore, searching for an admissible degree of relative comfort resorts to proper English and falsifies the issue, thus: It is difficult to understand why one is not understood.

This proper English falsification underlies the prose and poetry written about Arnold Schoenberg by those of his friends and followers who, once his apologetic avowers, today, equally apologetically, disavow him. It is an underlie, because it is not at all difficult to understand why one is not understood, and that one is not stood because one is understood, and that one can not stand that which one understands precisely because one does.



  1. Jon W said,

    January 2, 2021 @ 3:05 pm

    The modern constitutional law of standing is largely a twentieth-century invention, but its legal use to mean "entitlement to sue" is older. Initially, the usage was different, incorporating an indefinite article. Here's a lawyer's argument in *The Frances*, 12 U.S. 335 (1814):

    "It is said that we have not a standing in Court, that James Thompson is an alien enemy, and that an alien enemy cannot support a claim of this kind. But we say that, admitting James Thompson to be an alien enemy, his agent in this country may have a standing in Court, if the property in question be divested of its hostile character . . . "

  2. Bloix said,

    January 2, 2021 @ 8:19 pm

    Understand is a peculiar compound. It has nothing to do with being under or with standing. "Comprehend," the closest synonym, is an ordinary metaphoric term – to grasp together. But understand is incomprehensible.

  3. Roscoe said,

    January 2, 2021 @ 9:51 pm

    SIR TOBY BELCH: Taste your legs, sir; put them to motion.
    VIOLA: My legs do better understand me, sir, than I understand what you mean by bidding me taste my legs.

  4. Tim Rowe said,

    January 2, 2021 @ 10:32 pm

    I'm reminded of the Roger McGough poem about the young woman who stood around on street corners but who caught a nasty disease notwithstanding.

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