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In which John Green, wearing an actual replica of the hat worn by fictional character Holden Caulfield, discusses quotations, and the decontextualizing of a quote from his novel "An Abundance of Katherines." Also there is a brief discussion of fishing boat proceeds. And frenching the llama.


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A Bunny
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Good morning Hank, it's Monday, March 29th 2010. It's tax season, which means that I must once again, for the 32nd consecutive year, report to the Internal Revenue Service that I have failed to garner any fishing boat proceeds. FRENCH THE LLAMA! Fishing boat proceeds are the unicorns of my tax return!

And, now, Hank, having alienated all our new viewers, I begin the video. So, Hank, I have a bad habit of Googling myself-- hello, Holden Caulfield hat, how did you get here?--so the other day I was Googling myself and I discovered something absolutely incre--wait wa-wa-wait, I have something important to discuss which is that in a few days I have a book coming out that I co-wrote with David Levithan and we are going on tour, and some of the events of the tour are ticketed, others are not, to find out if yours is ticketed go to the link in the doobly-doo.

Right, Hank, so I discovered something pretty incredible and it wasn't that there is a guy named John Green who is one of the four horsemen of Sasquatchery. That, I already knew, because one time I wrote an article for the Mental Floss Magazine in which I talked about the fact that Bigfoot is, you know, fictional and I totally got a letter from famous Bigfoot apologist John Green, who said my anti-Bigfoot propaganda was besmirching the good name of John Greens everywhere.

Right, so that is not what I discovered, what I discovered is--this is kind of annoying, the tassel. How did Holden deal with the tassel?--what I discovered is that a line I wrote years ago in my book An Abundance of Katherines has kind of gone viral on Twitter, it's been tweeted more than ten thousand times. The line is "Che senzo ha la vita si amano pro" -- I don't speak Italian.

The line is, "What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?" Which I'll admit I did write in this book, but as anyone who's read it knows, I was kidding. That's something Colin Singleton, the main character in the book who's kind of a child prodigy, says at the beginning of the book and he must spend the entire book learning it's bull.

I don't know how it looks on the screen there on YouTube, but on the viewfinder it looks a liiittle bit like a lady hat. But I promise, it is not, it is the actual replica, the actual replica, of a hat worn by a fictional character in a novel.


Anyway, Hank, this phenomena, it seems to me, is near-universal in the Internet age. Instead of people being misquoted, they are being miscontextualized. It's impossible to pull a line or a sentence of even a chapter from a book and understand the meaning of that section. Because as much as it pains us in the sound-bytey, Twittery world, text means nothing without its context.

For instance, Holden Caulfield's red hunting cap doesn't really make any sense until you have the context telling you that it's the same color as his dead brother's hair.

Look, she's wearing a hat. It's not a metaphor, I just thought it was funny.

Anyway, Hank, the whole thing made me think about something. Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than they say about the stories and people we're quoting.

So nerdfighters, what's your favorite quote? Leave it down below in comments and then let's think about what that says about us.

I mean, how did Holden Caulfield deal with the tassel issue? Was that ever covered in the text?

My favorite quote of the moment is from Robert Frost, "The only way out is through." I don't know what that says about me, but I'm sure you'll tell me in comments and we'll all tell each other about what our quotes say about each other. Okay, gotta get rid of this tassel, so annoying.

Hank, I'll see you on Wednesday.

From some angles it's a lady hat, and then from some angles it's like, "It's-a-me, Mario!"