What Kinds of Questions

Rob Kovitz

So much of how life feels lies in the phrasing

Proposed by the Academy of Dijon

What is the Origin of the Inequality Among Mankind; and whether such Inequality is authorized by the Law of Nature?

In Stephen Harper’s world, one does not publicly ask why.

To seek root causes is a sign of weakness.

To launch an inquiry, to bring decision-makers and experts together, is seen as an invitation for opponents to strike or a forum to extort money from the federal government or a waste of time when talk turns his black-and-white world grey.

So, while Harper endures well-deserved criticism for his refusal to consider a national inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women in this country, those slinging that criticism can hardly be surprised.

about how we got where we are.

A crime is a crime, it is to be solved and the perpetrator brought to justice. To concede a “sociological phenomenon” is to invite all manner of inconvenience for his government.

, and sifted me thoroughly upon every part of this head, proposing numberless inquiries and objections, which I think it not prudent or convenient to repeat.

is a real one,

And not for me alone, though certainly for me.

For even if, as Wittgenstein once claimed,

That while the facts may stay the same

And what is true of one is true of both,

The happy and unhappy man inhabit different worlds,

One still would want to know which world this is,

And how that other one could seem so close.

So much of how life feels lies in the phrasing,

In the way a thought starts, then turns back upon itself

hangs unanswered in the breeze.

“But what did happen at Megeve?”

so urgently that for the first time I felt discouraged, and even more than that, desperate, the kind of despair that overwhelms you when you realize that in spite of your efforts, your good qualities, all your goodwill, you are running into an insurmountable obstacle.

“I’ll tell you about it… Another day… ”

There must have been something distraught in my voice or my expression, because she squeezed my arm as though to console me and said:

… But…”

Who knew that a brief stay in a closet could have such lasting political consequences?

after Stephen Harper made a “surprise” visit (there was, of course, nothing surprising about it) to Iraq last weekend, with select members of the parliamentary press gallery in tow.

?” He set his feet on the bike pedals, ready to bolt.

and you’re gone.”

He squinted at me and pulled away. “You ain’t into little boys, is you?”

“No, I prefer girls,” I said. “All grown up.”

“Okay then.”

if he had a fear of water, soldier hesitated and replied: ‘I’m not really scared of it so long as I know it ain’t deeper than I am. But I’d just as soon not go in the navy.’ ”

of my own: “Have you ever heard of furries?”

My opportunity to see one in the “flesh” arrived in the form of Furnal Equinox, the largest furry convention in Canada (with 910 attendees). I attended in hopes of learning as much as I could about “the fandom” and uncovering the answers most sexologists are dying to know: Is this a genuine paraphilia? Or are the media exaggerating? Is it even about sex at all?

And who, I ask, can know that he understands anything, unless he do first understand it? In other words, who can know that he is sure of a thing, unless he be first sure of that thing?

ask, that makes a poet write a poem?


p. 391–7

Appealing to the senses with metaphors and similes like those in answer explanations 6, the answer must relate to the type of descriptive language used.


, as well as all those who want to use the results from a survey; neither statistical issues nor social science jargon should get in the way of any reasonably well-educated person being able to read and appreciate the messages herein.

“Also, don’t you think that it might be necessary to arouse her imagination?”

“In what way? How?” said Bovary.

!’—as I recently read in a newspaper.”

But Emma, awaking, cried out, “And the letter? And the letter?”


p. 407–2

This sentence makes sense with the briefest construction eliminates unnecessary were words and keeps the active voice.


can best be solved by yet another method of estimating the average distance of certain classes of stars.

Sources: Birney, Earle, Turvey: A Military Picaresque (1949), Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1977. Cotto, Andrew, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery, Brooklyn: Ig Publishing, 2012. Davis, Henry, Explanations for the Official SAT Study Guide Questions: Detailed Explanations for the Answers for Every Question. Henry Davis, 2010. Dungy, Camille, “Question and Answer: The Top Five,” Poetry Foundation, 2010, www.poetryfoundation.org. Flaubert, Gustave, Madame Bovary, translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie, Hackett Publishing, 2009. Fowler, Floyd J., Improving Survey Questions: Design and Evaluation. Sage, 1995. Harper, Tim, “For Stephen Harper, Governing Means Never Asking Why,” Toronto Star, Aug. 24, 2014. Koethe, John, “North Point North,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. Harada, Jun, Masao Fuketa, El-Sayed Atlam, Toru Sumitomo, Wataru Hiraishi, and Jun-ichi Aoe, “Estimation of FAQ Knowledge Bases by Introducing Measurements,” Knowledge-Based Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems: 10th International Conference, KES 2006, Springer Science & Business Media, 2006. Mitrovica, Andrew, “What the Hell Was Harper Doing in Iraq Anyway?” iPolitics, May 8, 2015, www.ipolitics.ca. Modiano, Patrick, Missing Person, translated by Daneil Weissbort, Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 2014. Newcomb, Simon, “The Extent of the Universe,” Scientific Papers, Vol. XXX, The Harvard Classics, New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909-14. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, On the Inequality among Mankind, Vol. XXXIV, Part 3, The Harvard Classics, New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909-14. Soh, Debra W., “A Peek Inside A Furry Convention,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, reprinted in Harper’s Magazine, March 2015. Spinoza, Benedict de, Ethics, Part 2, translated by R. H. M. Elwes, Project Gutenberg, 1997. Sterne, Laurence, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, New York: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1912. Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver’s Travels into Several Remote Regions of the World, Boston: D. C. Heath & Co., 1900.

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