How this originated is as follows. Some while back - years ago in fact - it emerged that WotN and I had different understandings of the Bob Dylan line 'That he not busy being born is busy dying'. WotN took it to mean, roughly, that from the day you're born you're on the way to your grave, whereas I'd always assumed it to be saying that unless you're open to new experiences, always learning as you go through life, your life itself amounts in effect to a slow death.
Then, one day last week we were with two friends in Ely, and we put to them the question of what the line means, without prompting them at all regarding the different possible ways of construing it. It turned out there was the very same difference of interpretation between the two of them as there had been between the two of us.
That is what led me to raise the issue with readers of normblog, and here are the results of my survey.
I heard back from 46 people, and they divided approximately 2 to 1 for the learning-or-dying over the immediately-heading-for-the-grave interpretation: it was 24 for the former and 13 for the latter, with 9 people coming in as 'other' (these either allowing both possibilities or suggesting something else.)
Does this mean that the learning-or-dying construal is the right one? That is a matter on which debate is set to run for many years.