Saturday, March 26, 2005


Despite the fact that the dictionary says that ‘opaque’ is murky or obscured and ‘transparent’ is lucid and clear, which to me is quite different, I have never seen such confusion over two simple little words. That’s understandable, I guess. After all I was confused about the difference when I was a child and to tell you the truth, I still am confused.

The confusion started when I was a youngster and I pointed out a frosted windowpane to my mother.

"What color is that?" I asked. My mother said it was ‘opaque’. So then I asked my father. He said it was ‘transparent’.

So maybe ‘opaque’ and ‘transparent’ are one and the same. Could that be? Anyway, a few years later my discussion with my eldest sister led to even further confusion. The discussion was about her latest fashion acquisition – a nylon blouse. That was way long ago. You probably won’t remember them but at one time, perhaps in the late fifties, they were all the rage. But my sister got one in the 60’s cause it always took 15 to 20 years for anything new to filter into our backwoods community. But eventually along came nylon blouses – sheer like nothing we had ever seen before. Sheer as cellophane. Bra and entire body showing through – big as life. A totally new and shocking fashion statement. (And if the kids in current space and time think that bare midriffs and belly-button rings are sexy and daring, those nylon blouses in that world of modesty and restraint were sexier by a mile) You could see everything there was to see through them.

So being a moderate and conservative family, I said to Sis, when she happily modeled her nylon blouse for me, "You know Dad’s not going to let you wear that. It’s transparent."
"No it isn’t," Sis retorted. "It’s opaque."

Looked pretty transparent to me. You see why I was confused about ‘opaque’ and ‘transparent’. But now as I grow older, the confusion only worsens. In today’s world the government has promised to be more ‘transparent’. With the abuse scandals, so has the Catholic Church, our health care system, our law enforcement officials, and government officials. Insofar as the church goes, a promise of transparency seems to have increased the secrecy about the state of the Pope’s health. Seems like we’re not getting many details. And I’m waiting to see how transparent the process will be when a new Pope is installed. Will the Vatican hunker down as usual with a smudge in a pot to let us know when a decision is made? (I don’t mean to be irreverent, but this has always struck me as such an odd kind of ritual).

And then there is law enforcement. Last time we got a new Chief, they promised to be more transparent, but the media is daily revealing something else that they meant to keep secretly tucked away. I swear since adding ‘transparency’ to their agenda, they are more secretive than ever. And the Health Care system has promised to be more transparent, as have also the pill manufacturers, but they are still trying to keep under wraps the side effects of Zoloff. No openness there, and still no full disclosure about the health risks accompanying pills like Vioox and Celebrex (and a lot of other drugs as well).

Our political leaders have also promised to be more transparent, but everything – the sponsorship scandal and everything else that we have questions about has just been smudged and blurred and smudged and blurred some more. So yes, there’s no shortages of promises of transparency, but when we try to see what’s up, we find, with this new transparency, we are onlookers in front of a heavily frosted pane of glass that allows no one to see in and no one to see out.

It is not only annoying; it is bloody confusing. I think for clarity in the matter, the Crayola people should put a new color in their coloring box. After all crayons are the symbols of the colors of our world. One new crayon that fudges and smudges every drawing, caricature or symbol that represents a suspect process. They could call this new color something sophisticated like ‘The New Transparency of 2005.’ At least it would create a symbolism for us, when we are busy with our coloring books, that could help clear up some of the confusion in the real world about ‘transparency’.

P.S. Don’t let government officials weave you a sexy transparent blouse – it will end up being a better cover up than a Hudson’s Bay blanket!


Blogger She Dances in Dragon said...

They need to extend their vocabulary to words like
"translucent" and "semitransparent"
I really like that one, because it means "imperfectly transparent"
hee hee

10:55 AM  
Blogger RP said...

Hey, just stopped by to say hi to you at your new digs. Looks mighty sharp. Hope you enjoy it and I'm glad you decided to continue writing for us all to enjoy.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi, She Dances in Dragon. You make me laugh. I love the phrase 'imperfectly transparent' or perhaps 'transparency challenged'....

Hi, RP. Pleased you stopped by and thanks for the complements on my new place. I do like it for its newness and simplicity. Hope I can find things to say that will complement the new look.

6:57 PM  

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