to have

No bell.

Last week I had a student tell me about his bicycle. He said “no bell.” When I asked, what do you mean? He pointed and said “nothing.”

Ideally he should have said “It has no bell” or “It doesn’t have a bell.” Much like saying “I have no friends” or “I don’t have no style.” The infinitive to have is my second in a list of interesting verbs in English that I probably think about too much.

We consided the ontological nature of the verb to be previously. Now, lets consider the nature of possession. To me, it goes further than the simple notion of simply having. I can’t possess a person but I can have a friend. I can possess a skill like being able to drink beer, but I can’t exchange it for another commodity.

We don’t often say “I ate a curry for dinner last night.” Instead we’ll say “I had a curry last night.” I didn’t just consume the curry, I possessed it.

Combining it with the verb to be I can say things like I have been vomiting for 4 hours. So not only have I been existing in a state of chunder, I have possessed that state as my own.

I own many things. Mostly books. Where are those books? I have books. Those books are somewhere. Is there a difference beween to be and to have? Yes, to be implies only existence, whereas to have gives an indication of ownership.

But is ownership merely a neo-capitalist expression to give a sense of branding to an independent item? Have I used too many multisyllabic words outside of my limited vocabulary? Has anyone read this dribble? I have written it, but is it read? Does it exist outside of anyone reading it? Does it have meaning?

Maybe I should have another beer.

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