How Remote is Remote?

Dr. Rupak Bhattacharya: Were you, for even a not so remote moment, deign to overlook my importunate impudence, of trying to un-fathom the unfathomable, you will appreciate that I have bitten-off more than my molars can remotely manage.

Inspired by the travelogues on Reccemag, of peoples and places remote.

Pale Blue Dot. This photograph of planet Earth was taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1

The world, they assure me, is getting smaller every day. Let alone Phileas, I too haven’t the Fogg-iest remotest idea what they mean. These days it takes me half as long to get to office every day, though its GPS has remained the same over the years. The more familiar I become with my locus operandi the more remote it gets every day, and it has got nothing to do with my remote stilettoed boss. Of course a remote possibility does exist, that she will someday consider me indispensible to her scheme of things, at times other than those when I ask for a leave, making my desk-in-the-corner less remote.

Having put quill to A4, to explore my primary proposition, that is to try and quantify the remotishness of remote, I confess to a rising feeling of nausea that I shall throw-up some bilious verbiage without even a remote resemblance to anything literary. But we quill-cutters are made of sterner stuff and mere nausea, stinkers from the Editor or a few well-aimed bricks have not even the remotest possibility of locking up our literary loquaciousness.

Though I am told, by reliable sources, that M/S Wren and Martin and Mr. Nesfield are in antediluvian remoteness and even Mr. Fowler is not even an “usable” flotsam in the Facebook flood, I believe there still exists a remote near-extinct tribe of Syntax-Supplicants, who still remain particular about the ‘past participle’, whatever that may be, and who will present you with only a remote chance of catching them with a ‘dangling modifier’ ( Google it, it’s not even remotely what you think).

For this remote but esoteric clan of Grammar-Gurus, as also for the hieroglyphiliac, instagrammatical, twitterrific, emoticontent e-generation I must, at the outset or is it the midset, reiterate that ‘Remote‘ is an adj. used to qualify a place (in time and/or distance), a person or a possibility.

Were you, for even a not so remote moment, deign to overlook my importunate impudence, of trying to un-fathom the unfathomable (not on a nautical scale), you will appreciate that I have bitten-off more than my molars can remotely manage.

If, dear reader, having optimistically struggled to reach this far, you decide, like Job (38:11), ‘thus far and no further’, I don’t blame you. For I confess to the realisation that ‘there will be (a not unremote possibility) weeping and gnashing of teeth’ if I persist in carrying on with what many would consider, and possibly rightly too, literary calisthenics amounting to, as the Thane of Glamis so succinctly put it, “…a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”

Saturn eclipses the Sun, as seen from the Cassini–Huygens space probe. Earth seems to vanish in the brilliant glow of the gas giant’s icy rings. Source: NASA

Having at last got over the introductory hors, let me get down to the meaty d’oeuvre.

Well may you ask, ‘how remote is remote’, for that is precisely what we started with, though it may well now seem to be in the remote sepia past.

Primarily, and even secondarily and tertiarily, its quantification will always remain a predicate of the perspective.

An extra-solar planet, only a meagre thirteen thousand light-years away, is never as remote as your next-lawn-neighbour with whom you have bad fences. For the un-illuminated a light-year is a measure of distance taken for light to travel from point A to point B in 365 days (leap years don’t count) and is about six million million miles of illumination.

Now how long has QE 2, God bless her royal knees, been a Q? On a time scale it does not even remotely compete with the time it usually takes to honestly complete Joyce’s Ulysses, or its close second, an unabridged Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

It’s after all, as you so perspicably perceive, a prerogative of the perspective. Consider your gouty, sorry doughty, mother-in-law, at long suffering last, reconciled to your existence, and so carried away by the Holy and other spirits, as to kiss you a Merry Christmas and the bio-degradable human on a bio-degradable planet at long last waking up from a sleep sans a nuclear nightmare.

Which of these remote possibilities is remoter?

Having vainly beaten about the bush long enough, I am beaten, having belatedly realised that the hard-bound well-thumbed bird-in-hand is well worth two who may, or may not be, residing in the aforementioned presently uninhabited bush.

This rara avis of the Grammar Guru species affirms that all adjs. can only be of three types, viz. positive, comparative and superlative.

So in absence of a better theory, and with the remote possibility that, in the not too remote future, a better alternative will be available, I am perforce down to only three graded quantifications of the remoteness of remote, viz. Remote, Remoter and Remotest.

Quad erat faciendum.

Words: Dr. Rupak Bhattacharya

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia, NASA

About the author: A well-passed-middle-age doctor and a small-time mountaineer of yore, now an armchair traveller who loves to read.


One thought on “How Remote is Remote?

  • August 19, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    I have successfully managed to navigate, twisting, through the tongue twisters and punting through the puns. I almost didn’t make it though, since it was as difficult as trying to give up smoking, but the other way round, trying NOT to give up reading. But thanks be to the almighty I continued doggedly even after two false stops in my pursuit of the remote with just a remote possibility of ever reaching the end but wonder of wonders I did and passed through the river of smoke, to find the mud bank at the end of the rainbow… 😀 😀 😀


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