Departments

Nondefinition #8

Fences. "Good fences make good neighbors" is the famous quotation, and would have made a good motto for a New England confederacy, had they chosen to secede. But the principle has many other extensions, for fences determine neighbors. Barbed wire makes neighbors prickly, tense—even wiry. Wrought iron gives neighbors easily overwrought; cast iron, neighbors who are often overcast or downcast—sometimes even cast out or cast-off; and both, neighbors prone to irony. Stones, of course, are unpredictable: sometimes, they cause stony taciturnity and stone-coldness; sometimes they give you neighbors who rock; but most of the time, stones attract stoners. (Fortunately, concrete attracts them as well; if you must build a stone fence, try to make sure of an abandoned building between you and any population center). You can never be sure what to expect from a wood fence. Such neighbors (especially if they have not been pressure-treated) are known to split, flake off, come loose, snap, rot out—even catch fire. Vinyl fences are very reliable: they draw neighbors who are low-maintenance, low-interest, and of uniform color. And predictably, people who grow their own fences put down roots. Now, though fence analysis is a young science, it is a very exciting one. If you'd like to help, the new Endower Institute Center for Fensive Studies is ready to accept your donations.