Posted by Bob on October 04, 2001
In Reply to: Pushing rope uphill..... posted by R. Berg on October 03, 2001
: : : I heard the phrase, "pushing rope uphill" this morning and had not heard it before. Any help with its meaning/origin would be appreciated.
: : Sounds like someone has confused "pushing a rope" and "pushing a rock uphill," both individually symbols of futility, but which don't make a lot of sense blended together. Pushing a rope is an obviously futile activity; puching a rock uphill is a reference to the myth of Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to push a large boulder up a hill, which would then roll to the bottom, so he had to do it again. (It's a little like being condemned to work in a passport office, stamping documents and filing them in triplicate. Forever.
: My guess: "Pushing rope uphill" is a new twist (a topper) on "pushing rope," meant to intensify the meaning. Pushing rope is silly if you want the rope to remain straight, but you CAN push a coil of rope. Trying to push rope uphill, however, is even sillier.
I'd still vote for confusion over improvement. While improvement is possible ... as we know ... pushing a rope uphill is no more impossible than pushing a rope at all, so nothing is gained.