Tuesday, April 26, 2011

what can occur can reoccur

Here’s a phrase that struck me odd the other day: ‘occur to.’ Without the preposition ‘to,’ ‘occur’ usually means to ‘happen’ or ‘transpire,’ as in “the accident occurred at 6 o’clock,” or “this disease occurs in farm animals.” It has something of a suddenness about it, as in “Hamlet was not prepared for what was about to occur!”

The suddenness makes it unlike ‘take place,’ which works well with events planned in advance, like an operation or a meeting that takes days to be over.

But we also use ‘occur to’ to refer to a BRAIN getting an idea or remembering something.

Yo Jeeves, it occurs to me that white goes better with fish.

What I like about ‘occur to’ is it’s as if an IDEA HAD HAPPENED to you, passively. It crept up on you while you were sitting around minding your own damned business. In that it’s a bit similar to “dawn on,” except that “dawn on” is wimpier because of its reference to the sentimental Walt Disney dawn, as well as a dishwashing liquid that comes in varieties like “lime surge” and “citrus kick.”

And then Monday dawned on Petrushki.

In this case, it could actually be Monday itself, the day, arriving in the form of daylight on that sleeping idiot Petrushki, or Petrushki possibly realized something surprising about Monday. It does seem to refer to the throttling awake of a stupid person:

It dawned on Roger that those cigarette butts in the ashtray were not his wife’s.

Maybe it’s because the dawn seems to come up gradually, like a slow person finally getting the hint, his jaw slackening to reveal a dark orb.


Kathleen said...

It all too often dawns on me that I am a sentimental dunce.

Then, for a few days, I am witty, quick, and ironical.

Teetering, teetering on a fulcrum...

rallentanda said...

This is a wonderful post and I 'm not sure why, but it is giving me a good laugh1

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