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Short Takes

According to the new (omg!) Times Thursday Styles section’s “Crib Sheet” (which promises to be “a quick primer on the week’s hot conversation topics,” cause otherwise, we’re helpless, right?) you’re gonna wanna bring up this weekend that the MOMA has “acquired” (how exactly?) the @ sign! which, following a bit of research, unlike the ampersand (&) strangely has no, more formalized, pretentiously abstracted name (any suggestions?) though it does have a history (and let me tell you, it’s been around the block a few times…). They also mention that people can’t find the apostrophe on the iPad, but who’s concerned about that?

Not these ladies…anyway, it’s apparently part of the permanent collection now, along with Starry Night and Les Demoiselles D’Avignon. I guess…

Apart from the huge conceptual questions we could parse through on this momentous occasion (like how exactly do you collect a sign that has no singular objective existence? pluck off all the keyboard keys and keep them in a jar under your bed?) how about this instead (I think it a much more fun game): if you were a fine curator of a fine collection of fine symbols and signs, what, pray tell, would they be? Hey look it’s you, the fine curator:

Like any good game, of course, there are rules! I do think this game is more fun if, unlike the MOMA, you DO think of your collection as having a weighty object existence. Don’t let your imagined curatorial self off the hook so easily! Do not let it be as easy as keeping your keyboard handy. You WILL have to dust off the awkward gilt letter “A” you got from your great aunt quite regularly. You WILL have to provide proper security for the “$” and someone WILL keep asking questions about the meaning and provenance behind the “^” and you never ever will have a satisfying answer. You’ll have to make wall signs, maybe a pamphlet, maybe even white wash a few walls. But I swear, it’s gonna be great. People will be lining up for at least a few feet to see your impressive collection of signs! Wittgenstein might even show up, or Frege, though I wouldn’t hold your breath for Chomsky, he’s such a diva these days. Also, remember, this is a serious game, there are harsh economic market realities afoot! You know everyone’s gonna want the “X” which is totally gonna drive its price up-up-up, and we know you really want the “#” but don’t act too eager, or those investors from Saudi Arabia will catch on and exploit your pure aesthetic desire for gross monetary gain….they’re so good at that. When you’re feeling intrepid, just think of this lady, and ALWAYS dress to match:

Be strong and your semiotic museum will flourish! Maybe after several strong summer seasons and a few sponsor-laden galas, you can add a wing, branch into sound maybe! Can you spell p-h-o-n-e-t-i-c-s? Oops, even if you can, you’ll have to acquire the letters first, and it looks like “P” just got traded for a pad on the Upper East Side. Maybe next time