February 6, 2009

Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt" is one of the most brilliant phrases I've ever come upon. Besides elegantly rolling off your tongue and lending itself to dramatics, (just imagine a speaker emphasizing the word "shadow" with a big hand gesture) it uses simple words to reach complex topics.

Beyond: it doesn't deny that doubts exist. But it suggests that we've come far enough along that doubts don't matter. "I'm past that," it seems to say.

A shadow of a doubt: it's profound because it gives an airy, ungraspable, concept physical properties. It reaches up into the clouds and pulls the doubt into the material world. It makes you wonder, what does a doubt look like? I imagine that a doubt starts out like a little tiny bug or worm. (The shadow would be rather small. "Beyond a shadow of a doubt" now seems to be drawing attention to the tiniest details, like how Christmas eve finds no creatures stirring, "not even a mouse.")

But the miniscule doubt slowly starts to eat away at solid truth, and grows bigger and bigger until it turns into a fear. By that time, truth has started to crumble. Perhaps it has already have turned to dust, and will soon be blown away in the wind.

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt" firmly establishes certainty. The fact is so strong that it cannot be affected by doubts in any stage of their life (larva, pupa, or adult). Even the shadow of that doubt (and shadows can grow long in the evening) is too small to touch the truth. Isn't it beautiful?


Serfy said...

Though I must say I find the phrase a bit overused, it does sparkle and twinkle nicely. I like your emphasis on the "shadow" part. :)

M. Quigley said...

"Even the shadow of that doubt (and shadows can grow long in the evening)"

This sentence...is briliant. It just needs more lyrics to make it a song :P People often doubt their life as it's coming to a close.