Friday, January 24, 2014

"terrorist" and "hero"

As much as anything, perhaps, language is a matter of belonging. Belonging and perhaps petition. Language may be better than rocks and spears, but its malleability makes it far less certain than those implements of force. Its warmth and comfort may be warming and comforting, but language is decidedly iffy... as for example the latter-day popularity among well-dressed policy wonks who seek to appease and control an unknowable future by employing the phrase, "going forward."

Strange to think that even as the above paragraph trickles off my typing fingers, still I can become so inflamed by a language which seeks to tie the shoes of belonging and invariably makes a hash of it. You might think that if the tool at hand simply cannot do certain things, I might stop asking it to do those things ... as for example, adequately describing experience. But nooooo ... the imperative to belong lingers and nags and reason is swept aside: It is like some smitten individual who simply cannot refrain from saying, "I love you." No matter that the words cannot fill the bill ... I do it anyway.

The inflamed boil on my butt that brought all this to mind this morning was an invocation that rose up in a didactic fury: "Never listen to anyone who uses the word "terrorist" or the word "hero" with that indolent assuredness that so often characterizes their use!" Like icebergs whose presence is announced by a mere tenth of their mass above the waves, there is an irresponsible and self-serving nine tenths lurking out of sight. "Terrorist" and "hero" betoken a thoughtless, conniving individual -- one whose company is likely to end in a bloodshed that is never their own. This obscenity is cloaked in an almost unassailable group hug of belonging.

OK ... it pisses me off. And being pissed off can seem to suggest I belong ... and perhaps someone will listen to my petition.

It's iffy, but when has that ever stopped me?

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