One Hand Slapping

Some of you will note it’s been a while since I last posted. Some will be disappointed at this prolonged gap. Some of you will be nervously hoping this was due to a relapse into sensibility or otherwise bilitating condition. Bilitating. Sounds like a hunky, hearthrob of an actor. Billy Tating.

What is the opposite of debilitating? That’s the word I wanted above.

I am not dead. I am not recovered. I am, rather, evolving. I can honestly say, with complete confidence and not a single shred of tongue inserted in cheek, that I have been single-handedly tackling life’s assorted challenges: opening doors, typing, eating meals… I’ve done all of these and more. With a single hand.

Long Time Readers will remember that in April last year I performed a short test into the limits of my ability to convincingly fall over. Long Time Readers will also be asking themselves why they keep coming back here (good question, Long Time Readers). That test indicated my reflexes were good, but my shoulder’s shock absorbency wasn’t up to the task, and left my right arm useless for a great deal of time. As luck would have it, my last foray into sport proved that my catching skills are pretty terrible, too.

And so I have been living with my right hand in a variety of armatures – the traditional bandage-and-plaster arrangement kicked us off, and I now sport a high-tech, moulded plastic-and-Velcro affair. Seriously, the strapping and curved plating are highly reminiscent of a Rob Liefeld design.

My hand splint is a hand-me-down from this guy's 2011 Winter ensemble

My hand splint is a hand-me-down from this guy’s 2011 Winter ensemble

In terms of being able to do my usual thing, this accessory has been positively rubbish – gym was out, showers are conducted like safe renditions of drowning-not-waving, and using a computer mouse is a ridiculous exercise in fingertip control methods. But for all this, it gave me a mindset of evaluation when it came to a task, to determine what adapting could be done to allow the function to still be performed. The answer? Push ups are out, soup is great.

Such a humble, low-activity lifestyle gives time for contemplation of the bigger questions, and so here is something I’d like to share: it is the answer to the riddle, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Deep? No. Existential? No.

Firstly, any smug clown who responds by raising a single hand, and repeatedly snapping their fingers shut on their palm? Just as un-enlightened as the initial big-haired, red-nosed inquisitor who posed the question. Look first to the definition of the word –

“Strike the palms of (one’s hands) together repeatedly, typically in order to applaud: “Agnes clapped her hands”; “the crowd clapped”.”

A hand gesture, described as striking the palms of one hand against another? The important details are: hand gesture, impact, repetition. Remove the multiple from the scenario, and you have a one handed striking gesture – an open-hand strike is a slap. The answer to this fabled question is simple – one-hand clapping is repeated slapping of a hand on a surface. So the sound of one hand clapping is not defined with deep thought, but rather by the surface you ‘one-hand clap’ against: a wooden table gives an answer such as “solid, with slight reverberation”, marble bench top gives “sharp, almost loud slapping”, and an annoying person’s cheek will give a “shrieking, irritating cry of surprise/pain”. Done. Mystery solved.

High five!

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~ by nick on March 16, 2013.

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