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Diddling Considered As One of the Exact Sciences.
June 18, 2013 12:16 AM   Subscribe

Lately, I've had some doubts about the level of discourse here on Metafilter. To remedy the situation, here is that great American essayist and thinker, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, on diddling.

Some critical apparatus:

    – short etymological note
    – Pollin, B. R. (1969). "Poe's ‘Diddling’: The Source of Title and Tale," free to read on JSTOR, registration required
    – a detailed bibliography from the E. A. Poe Society

I will trust you to find the NSFW Harry Potter tie-in fanfic on your own.
posted by Nomyte (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Next we'll discuss Kipling.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:21 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm particularly interested in the juxtaposition of Tom, Dick, and Harry in this piece. I didn't realize that the turn of phrase dated at least as far back as 1843.
posted by Nomyte at 12:26 AM on June 18, 2013


And, actually, we'll next discuss Poe on cosmogony, or perhaps on the principles of sound interior design and decoration.
posted by Nomyte at 12:27 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:27 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If my typing is ever a bit sloppy on here, it's just because I've been tippling.
posted by Rinku at 12:33 AM on June 18, 2013


Tom, Dick, and Harry in this piece. I didn't realize that the turn of phrase dated at least as far back as 1843.

Tom, Dick and Harry dates to the 17th century, but variants go earlier like Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 (1597): "I am sworn brother to a leash of Drawers, and can call them by their names, as Tom, Dicke, and Francis."
posted by stbalbach at 12:35 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is Named Sam
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:42 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Next we'll discuss Kipling.

Sure, I'll eat anything.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:51 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Next we'll discuss Kipling.

I've made it this far without having Kippled. Surely I can finish without it.
posted by pjern at 12:55 AM on June 18, 2013


Ahem, well, yes, to that profoundly thoughtful essay, I have this to say:

Teehehe!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:58 AM on June 18, 2013


I just wanna play my diddley bow.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:38 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Refuse, at your peril, Poe's advice for writers, "How to Write a Blackwood Article" and it's companion piece, "A Predicament."
posted by CincyBlues at 4:05 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I rather enjoyed that. My father used the word diddle in that context.
posted by BenPens at 4:28 AM on June 18, 2013


Of course, the word meant something completely different back then...

Diddling, rightly considered, is a compound, of which the ingredients are minuteness, interest, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and grin.

...or maybe not.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:39 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course, the word meant something completely different back then...

Hey diddle diddle
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 AM on June 18, 2013


I said kiddilees, diddle I?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:21 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I'm a bad Bart. I will tell taradiddles!
(He'll tell taradiddles when he's a bad Bart.)
I'll play a bad part on the falsest of fiddles.
(On very false fiddles he'll play a bad part!)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:38 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


More etymology.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:18 AM on June 18, 2013


Holy cow, but folks were long-winded back then.

I feel as though I've been diddled out of fifteen or twenty minutes of my time when I expected only to pay five or ten.
posted by notyou at 6:55 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great post title.
posted by kenko at 7:37 AM on June 18, 2013


Thus quoth the raven: pleasuremore
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:50 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


diddle i diddle i diddle i see ya cryin'?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:55 AM on June 18, 2013


Diddling is fun.
posted by Mister_A at 9:00 AM on June 18, 2013


I have always heard "Diddling", in polite company, to be referring to child molesters.
I shall keep choosing to not use that word.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:40 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Of course, the word meant something completely different back then

Actually, according to the Pollin article (JSTOR link), it didn't mean anything at all in America then; it was a bit of London slang used in a play Poe had just seen (about Jeremy Diddler, hence the "two great Jeremys" bit at the start).

> I shall keep choosing to not use that word.

You might sensibly have chosen not to use it here as well.
posted by languagehat at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2013


So, I'm diddling right now?

Next we'll discuss Kipling.

I'm Kipling right now.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2013


Diddling? Not as bad as Nero fiddling...

I used to call giving my dog dry food "kibbling"...

I do envy those of you with brothers and sisters who can do sibling...

I liked when one of the villains on the '60s Batman TV show went Riddling (another thing Jim Carrey ruined)...

...while in the Alien movies, Sigourney Weaver went Ripling...

...but nothing like when Star Trek went Tribbling...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:15 PM on June 18, 2013


You could very easily replace diddler with hipster and the article still works fine. For example:

Hipsterism, rightly considered, is a compound, of which the ingredients are minuteness, interest, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and grin.
posted by ericbop at 6:58 PM on June 18, 2013


You don't want to mix "diddler" and "hipster" because that only leads to "Hidler".
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:16 PM on June 18, 2013


any dud'll do
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:24 PM on June 18, 2013


In our family, we used the word "diddling" for that thing where you're sitting around talking, and you're bouncing your knee without taking your whole foot off the floor. Kind of like you're bouncing a baby, but with no baby there. I'm probably not describing it well, but it's a particular kind of fidgeting the whole family seems to do. I was taken aback as an adult when I found out the word's more common, sinister meaning.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:22 AM on June 19, 2013


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