I agree.  We are increasingly overloaded with pseudo-"choices"  that not
only waste life but can be damaging.  I once went in the vast, new,
hideously overlarge Hannaford store near me to buy cottage cheese. I
wanted Lactaid cottage cheese because it is the only kind I can eat. 
There were 15 "choices" of cottage cheese (all alike with different
brand names) but no Lactaid.  I asked for it and was told they did not
carry it because they did not sell enough.  So I was forbidden cottage
cheese because I did not fit into the range of completely arbitrary but
all alike choices that sell large amounts.  They now carry it, but the
game goes on.  Every time they get a decent new thing and it sells, they
replace it with their own brand, usually inedible.  My personal grudge
is cat food.  The one thing a cat does NOT want is new food.  A cat
wants what it ate before, but they have constant new brands and remove
what Emma and Catlynn want.

This is all in one sense trivial and stupid--especially on the Eliot
list--except that it is an analogy, and many on the list do like such
readings.  The "higher" meaning is that an endless proliferation of
meaningless "choice" makes real choice impossible.  (I think this has
significant implications for Madam Sosostris and Eliot's frequent scorn
of mediums and such.) 

And can we not stop misspelling "manacle"?  Why--when all other
misspellings get immediately denounced--does this proliferate unchecked?
 Or is it a new choice?  Does it mean the same as "manacle" or is it a
plural, as in sets for a chain gang?  Or does it mean only men can wear
them?  Or is it an enigmatic and mysterious sound shift hinting at
profound meaning?

>>> [log in to unmask] 04/04/06 9:45 AM >>>
Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Transpose your question to Elizabethan times (where I live) and
> think of the effect of all the different spelling possibilities that
> pened then (how many ways did Shakespare spell his name).
> I suspect it used to be sound that drove spelling, not spelling,
> Today homogenised spelling has put sound in a straight jacket.

A couple decades ago 1000s in South Africa were risking death,
imprisonment, or worse to demand that English continue to be taught in
Black schools. Why? Because English was the common language of those
resisting the brutal occupation of their land by Europeans. Teaching the
local language only in each school would would have been one route to
atomizing and stifling the literation struggle.

Most on this list have probably at one time or another ridden in someone
else's car after dark and had the experience of frustrated groping for
the door handle when they were getting out. Perhaps some have also been
irritated by different combinations to control water volume or
temperature in the bathrooms of different hotels and homes. Or struggle
to find the green beans they have been buying for years among the 12
different slight variations currently on the shelves for each brand
name. If time is life, then these innumerable "possibilities" among
which one must choose eat one's life away.

It is childish when considering variability vs standardization to assume
that all standarization leads to unfreedom, all multiplicity of
possibility leads to freedom.