A word that describes itself is called an autological word (or autonym). This generally applies to adjectives, for example sesquipedalian, but can also apply to other parts of speech, such as TLA, as a three-letter abbreviation for three-letter abbreviation". - Self Reference.
I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me. - Woody Allen
|Self Portrait at Tiffany's|
I came to be reflecting on the meaning of "self referential" last Saturday round noon, when my cell phone rang. It was a stranger on the other end of the line. And the conversation went something like this.
Stranger: "Hello, is this 646 XXXXXX?"
Stranger: "Well you have taken my number. My number is 646 XXXXXX."
Me: "No, I have had 646 XXXXXX for eight years. It is MY number."
Stranger: "No it is mine and now we both have the same number and I just this minute dialled it."
Me: "Well, in that case, why aren't you answering your call?"
Stranger: "Because YOU picked up!"
Me: "OK. I'll hang up now, and you can call it again and I won't pick up this time and you can talk to yourself."
A few seconds later, my phone rings. I ignore it and play Angry Birds on my iPad.
|A Touch of Color at Dumbo|
Me: "Please stop calling me. I am busy."
Stranger: "But you have my number."
And so on ....
In the end he went away, but I just couldn't resist. I checked my call log and clicked on the number that had last called me. The stranger's number. No answer. "It's me," I voice mailed, "have you figured out your phone number yet, or am I YOU?".
Some time later Mr Stranger actually called again, but this time, to apologize.
|Apple Store, Fifth Avenue|
I have a native New Yorker friend who thinks she is the only person in New York dressing in black - my Moon Follows Me" friend.
I have a stranger who thinks if he dials my number he is calling himself.
But perhaps the most strangest is my non-existential referential neighbor who recently bought an iPad 2. Worried that a man she knows might mess with it when she went away on vacation she hid it. Somewhere. Where, she has no idea.
|Two Aussie New Yorker Philosophers|
I think I'll put Jay in touch with the man who doesn't have the same phone number as me. He can help set up her non-existent iPad with MobileMe so that she can find it next time she loses it.
Stay tuned ...