Warning: someone may be monkeying with you


A while back I wrote about a quotation on my post-post-publication page by Truman Capote, “That’s not writing at all, that’s typing.” He said that about Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road, and he meant it as a slur.

Apparently this quote has appeared on other blogger’s pages as well, one of many randomly generated quotations about writing. So, it wasn’t meant personally.

However, no slight, real or imagined, is too small for me to take notice of, worry about, mope about, or whine about. It’s what I do.

And then, I had an epiphany, which sounds like a medical procedure, but isn’t. (I’ll tell you, Gertie, I don’t know why I waited so long to have that epiphany. I can see so much better now. It didn’t hurt a bit.)

Yearstricken hitting random keys for her blog (picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

Without knowing it, Capote was rephrasing the Infinite Monkey Theorem, which states that “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.”

When I read that, I suddenly knew what light through yonder window breaks. And it isn’t Juliet, Romeo. It is the light from the computer screen of the Infinite Monkey. Let me break it down for you:

  • I hit keys at random on my computer every day.
  • I spend an infinite amount of time hitting those keys.
  • I like bananas.

Forsooth, I may have to change the name of my blog to Infinite Monkey. And you might, too, although it would be confusing if we all used that name. My point is that there are probably millions of us hitting random keys all day long.

According to my imagination, it’s highly probable that WordPress is run by a bunch of scientists who are testing out the Infinite Monkey Theorem. It’s not for nothing that your year-end statistics were brought to you by monkeys, right?

After you get over your alarm, I hope this encourages you. The next time someone reads some of your stuff and says, “Well, it ain’t Shakespeare,” you can answer, “Not yet, friend, not yet, but one of these days.”

26 thoughts on “Warning: someone may be monkeying with you

  1. Brilliant punch line. This is great, and I’m using it the next time one of my family members tells be they don’t want to read my female dribble. thank you so much.
    P.S. Do you have a booklet of retorts for Mother-In-Laws? I think it might be a best seller.

  2. I’m glad it was useful. It’s hard to believe someone would call your writing female dribble. I would probably say, “Well, I tried to write male dribble, but it just didn’t flow.” 🙂

  3. You know, when you originally quoted Capote’s famous line, I had to wonder if you had gotten that quote from the WordPress random quote generator— as I had gotten the same quote a few days before after posting something.

    I had wanted to pat you on the shoulder, at the time. That’s a horrible thing for any writer to say of another writer, even in a random drive-by quote sort of way. But, I wasn’t sure if you had read the quote before, and I didn’t want to come off as, eh, me, I guess– font of useless knowledge that I am.

    I read Capote for the first time years ago, voraciously and pretentiously, as a teen. His word-craft is gorgeous, but his personality, well…. (*Shrugs shoulders.*) (Tries again.) His personality was kind of…tetchy.

    A little history on that particular quote. Capote’s popularity waned after his Swans left him for writing about them without permission. He wasn’t writing as much or as well in later years.

    He started drinking a few too many cocktails before going on the nightly talk-show circuit (as everybody did then, I’ve been told), and became snippy and mean about other writers. They loved him on the talk show circuit. He talked about everybody. And having seen some of these clips, I cringe visibly. His snark feels like– “If I’m going down, I’m taking everybody with me.”

    Poor Capote! Poor anyone who ever left a secret with Capote!

    So, I love this post very much. Your writing is so free and so muscular, especially when you’re spinning an anecdote. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

    (One of my two dog’s is named Monkey, by the way. Duchess Monkey.)

    (Infinite monkey rocks!)

    • Life is just a big drawer full of useless knowledge. It saves everything because you never know when you might need something. So, I love what you added; the one thing I’ve been lacking on this blog is knowledge.

      I feel sorry for Capote in a sense as well. He wrote great things, lost his mojo, and went into a decline. That’s why I personally don’t write great things; I fear the decline.

      What is it about Infinite Monkey that’s so tantalizing? Too bad I’m past the child-bearing age.

      • If life is a drawer of useless knowledge, mine is overstuffed with some pretty odd gewgaws! Had you added a bunch of historical Capote asides to this piece, it wouldn’t have the rhythm and freshness you maintain throughout.

        (And you’re always teaching me new things, by the way. I get overly excited when I read your posts. You know… great writing and interesting ideas in one package makes for a blabbery Bluebird.)

        I used to be really mad about Capote’s later mean-spiritedness. Now, I wonder what punched him in the heart so hard it knocked the sweet out of him.

        Another side note: In my circle, there’s a rash of monkey nicknaming going on, especially of children. (One of our dogs is named Duchess Monkey. She rarely goes by her royal title, though.)

        Thanks for the link to my blog and the compliment! You are lovely! And congrats again on your Freshly Pressed status! I am so, so pleased and thrilled for you!

        Once again, I have written a novel in your comments section. (Sorry, sorry!)

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