Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Rolling Stone

Linnsey and I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest recently. I'd seen it before, but I'd forgotten the scene where they're trying to determine if Jack Nicholson's character is mentally ill. They ask him to describe in his own words what "a rolling stone gathers no moss" means.

I'd always heard that asking people to describe abstraction and metaphor--and that proverb in particular--is a way to test for schizophrenia. Supposedly, people with schizophrenia have trouble abstracting the metaphorical meaning of a person who is always moving from the literal meaning of a rock rolling. Wikipedia seems to support this information, but maybe someone with an actual degree in the field (hi Dad!) can say whether this is true and actually used nowadays.

Anyway, I got to thinking about what the most literally correct yet useless interpretation of this proverb could be. You know, so if someone is trying to test my mental state, I can whip it out on the spot and add a little levity to the situation. So here's what I think the proverb means:

Mick Jagger does not collect bryophytes.


CKL said...

Keith Richards, on the other hand, does collect them. In large quantities. But then he smokes them all, so he doesn't actually hold on to any sort of supply. Thus, on the gripping hand, the proverb is still valid.


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