General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

If something is ungraspable, is it still slippery?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10780points) April 25th, 2010

This goes for any verb that might fit. Can something edgeless be dull?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

No, why would it be? Slipperiness isn’t the only thing that can make something difficult to grasp.

anartist's avatar

Not necessarily. It may not even be physical.

absalom's avatar

Can something without an orifice be fucked? :/

Jeruba's avatar

Smoke is ungraspable. The blade of a sharp knife is ungraspable. A river is ungraspable. Anything illusory or incomprehensible is ungraspable. None of those is slippery.

thriftymaid's avatar

Like the others have said, something “ungraspable” is not necessarily slippery.

roundsquare's avatar

I think people are misinterpreting the question.

The question is – can something ungraspable be slippery? I.e. if you call something slippery, does it necessarily need to be graspable.

So, giving examples of ungraspable not slippery things doesn’t help. As long as I can find one ungraspable yet slippery thing, the answer is “yes.” Otherwise, the answer is “no.”

@Ltryptophan lemme know if I’m wrong.

janbb's avatar

I’m with @roundsquare on the interpretation of the question. And to answer it, I would think the slipperiness of some objects would render them ungraspable; i.e., soap in the bathtub at times.

ucme's avatar

Hmm, like a well lubed penis? Hold on i’ll ask the wife.

Trillian's avatar

@ucme I don’t think you should mention well lubed penises, then ask us to “hold on”.
I think not. If something is slippery, that word implies that you are at least touching it. Touching and losing your grip, or holding on with a tenuous grip that threatens to jump out of your grasp.
Ungraspable implies never even touching it.

CMaz's avatar

“If something is ungraspable, is it still slippery?”

There is always risk when perusing something that is “unobtainable.”

ucme's avatar

@Trillian Oops freudian slip there.

Jeruba's avatar

Why don’t we let the OP restate the question more clearly if the answers are addressed to the wrong question? I considered it somewhat ungraspable in the first place (though not slippery).

“Still slippery” implies that it was slippery before and has now become ungraspable. Was it slippery yet graspable before? The slippery state preexisted; why would slipperiness end when ungraspability begins? This hardly makes sense.

absalom's avatar

Actually it does make sense if you limit the words to strict/literal definitions. (Also, the querent is not really using ‘still’ in a temporal sense I think although I know I see s/he put down ‘time’ in the tag line.)

What he or she is asking is this: Can something which can’t be grasped in the first place ever be slippery? Does slipperiness not imply some degree of graspability, even if that degree is minimal? If it were never graspable in the first place, then it would simply be ungraspable (and so decidedly not slippery).

It’s clearer in the example in the details. If we use dull only to qualify the sharpness of a thing (and not characterize a stupid person, say) then we can see it doesn’t quite apply to things that have no edges ‘to begin with’ – can a sphere be dull even though it has no edge, has nothing with a measurable sharpness? Can something which was never sharp (or never intended to be sharp) be called ‘dull’? What defines the word dull is after all an absence of sharpness. It is not technically incorrect to say a sphere is dull, but it is redundant (and mostly meaningless).

This is the question and the answer depends on how you look at the words.

My first quip addressed the problem of denotation and connotation that is at the center of the question. E.g. I say ‘I’m so fucked’ all the time (in fact I think it’s in my profile, not sure), but not because my orifices are being penetrated or violated, sadly. More because that’s the only thing I can think to say when facing the existential angst and/or hopelessness that pervades daily life. (Which begs the question, if I feel so persistently hopeless that it becomes the default emotion or sensation, do I then possess impunity to being existentially ‘fucked’? What kind of emotional or psychological orifice-closing occurs after so many years of hopelessness?) Which is to say that a wall cannot be fucked in the common and strictly literal sense. But like every word, ‘fuck(ed)’ owns a ton of meanings and actually was probably a bad example because it’s so versatile.

Can we bury a person who is already buried? Only if we dig him up first. But then he’s not buried anymore, so we’re not burying a buried person. We’re burying an unburied person (i.e. ‘a person presently not buried’, rather than the possible ‘a person previously not buried’ reading of unburied).

I hope this clarifies rather than obfuscates (but then as we just learned one cannot probably obfuscate something which is already obfuscated or unclear; he can only obfuscate further, which of course is a totally different verb than obfuscate).

CMaz's avatar

Now that was fun to read. :-)

Jeruba's avatar

So perhaps the essence of the question is whether these concepts can exist only in relative terms; that is, that “slippery” can have meaning only in relation to a continuum of graspability, and dullness in relation to a continuum of edgedness. Is that what you’re saying, @absalom? I would grant you plausibility there, and that would change my answer.

Nevertheless, I think the OP is the only one who can really resolve the issue of interpretation of the question.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@absalom I think Jeruba knows that you have the proper take, but is definitely not forthcoming with her attribution of the question’s aim to me.

Simply, at what point can a thing still be considered slippery once it is known to be ungraspable? A salamander is slippery, but is graspable. It will not do. How about a wide seamless glass wall at 15 degrees incline on a building greased with a circulating, cascading fall of viscous motor oil, would this be slippery, ungraspable, or both? Is there some albeit faint firm handle implied in the word slippery?

Jeruba's avatar

I beg your pardon, @Ltryptophan, but if I knew such a thing, I would not still be asking. I would not be feigning confusion. What would be the point in pretense?

It’s no pretense to say that I don’t understand what you think I’m not forthcoming about. I’m not concealing something. But I do observe that @absalom is reading your language well, and I am not. In that case I shouldn’t be trying to answer the question.

roundsquare's avatar

A few thoughts:

A salamander is slippery, and I can attempt to grasp it.

Icy ground is slippery, but I can’t grasp it.

A huge we pane of glass is slippery, but I can’t grasp it. However, I’d call it slippery because one could imagine a giant grasping it (or trying to). And if I try to climb it, I’ll slip off.

A river is not slippery. I think the essence of being slippery is that something should be able to slide along it (not in it). The surface of a frozen river is slippery, but the non frozen part below it isn’t.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Ltryptophan I think Jeruba knows that you have the proper take, but is definitely not forthcoming with her attribution of the question’s aim to me.

I am reasonably bright and have a Master’s in English and I really haven’t a clue as to what you try to say much of the time. Your use of language is convoluted and inexact. If it wasn’t for your profile I would assume that you were not a native English speaker.

For instance your “Can something edgeless be dull?” query is rather silly – dull has many meanings. If you were standing naked I doubt whether you would have any edges and there are probably more than a few who would consider you dull. Does this suffice as an answer to the question?

Don’t pick on Jeruba simply because you can’t express yourself.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@darkscribe, letting you know that I am not acknowledging your existence is all the acknowledgment I have to offer you.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Ltryptophan darkscribe, letting you know that I am not acknowledging your existence

That’s ok, sometimes I am not sure that I am here either – in fact I think that I might be over there. I’ll go look.

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