inessential by Brent Simmons

Square sentence

Here’s how I know I’m a geek.

It’s been years since I’ve been on the Paris Métro, but I still remember a little sign that was in the subway cars: tout abus sera puni.

I don’t remember that phrase for what it says—I translate it as “all abuses will be punished”—but for its mathematical properties.

tout abus sera puni: four words, 16 letters. Four letters per word: two consonants and two vowels.

It’s a square sentence, if there is such a thing. And, as such, I’ve always remembered it, and I always remember sitting or standing in the subway and being fascinated by it.

If I were one of those authors of Templar/Mason/Grail conspiracy novels, I’d probably use this as a coded message of some kind. The sacred 4 x 4 clue printed all over “underground” Paris, with a bland message that should really be translated more grandiosely as a clue to what we will do to our enemies, the heirs to the Spanish Inquisition, or whatever.