On the existential subjunctive mood

My students find it hard to grasp the need for the Latin subjunctive. This also means they cannot accept uncertainty. They are young, why should they? Why should they accept the undeterminedness of life, the unreliability of existence? The human predicament is the only predication on the indicative mode. Everything else is subjunctive, and these young, flowering minds should not bother themselves with the modals: what ought to be, what could, or should, or must be, even what shall be? These are questions for later; let these youth bathe in the simple paratax, devoid of periods, subordinates, subordination and submission, under the Olympian sovereignty of the active voice and personal verbs . There’s nothing pluperfect, more than perfect about the subjunctive, so why bother? Let these young masters rule for the moment, let them be the force in their own lives and in the language they are. All is good, but then an hour passes and the students start asking questions about if clauses – si aliter fecissem, if I had done it differently. And then they graduate into tedium.

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