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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
 
Hogan, you are a beautiful man.

Ultimately, if we continue to exaggerate, over use hyperbole, or simply abuse words, we wear them out like a pop song on the radio. Similarly, if you eat chocolate cake everyday, the sweetness will slowly disappear. As mentioned before, if your words are not sharp, it may be because you, as a thinker, are dull.

Language is comparable to rules in sports: if everyone breaks them, the game ceases to exist as such and the joy is lost. When I play soccer with my friends, the worst part comes at the end. Why? Because as everyone’s muscles begin to tire and people start to leave, the rules start to bend. Being offside no longer matters, picking-up the ball is a legit strategy, and other shenanigans occur. Soccer, in its current form, is no longer being played. What is lost is the sense of meaning: scoring a goal or making a great play in this context means as much as earning $100 does to Bill Gates. The speed, skill, and precision of the game are at their best when all participants involved are playing within the parameters of the rules. I see no shame in striving for the best when on the field or conversing with friends.

I would advise anyone serious about their sex appeal to read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. They are champions of language with only one goal: to preserve the potency of words.



Free-spirits may deem these views as overly conservative. I am fully aware that things change with time and that language is no exception; new words are born one day and others are forgotten the next. Heed the advice of Strunk and White: “Do not forget that what may seem like pioneering may be merely evasion, or laziness — the disinclination to submit to discipline. Writing good standard English is no cinch, and before you have managed it you will have encountered enough rough country to satisfy even the most adventurous spirit.”
Comments

Hogan

Hogan

I, like, totally agree with you, Ryan. Like, it's like totally, for sure, I know.

There's a pendulum-effect in matters like these: that is, if someone points out how words like "like" and "random" are signs of mental decay, someone else will take the opposite side and, in an effort at an unsnobbish defense, be a kind of reactionary apologist for that mental decay.

Same goes for religion nowadays: since religion is attacked so much recently the reactionaries will run to the defense of religion, and in the process they'll seem like the underdog coming to the rescue of much-abused religiosity. It's all a false dichotomy, though, an immature antithesis.

People don't like to take a stand for status-quo things like good grammar and articulateness, so they think they're being rebelliously original by defending silly things like "random" or religion.

Real rebellion nowayday, I would argue, consists in taking things seriously rather than defending eccentricity for its own sake. We think the eccentric is truly "free", a true "individual", but that's not the case. In a society like ours (a capitalist/consumer one) that celebrates eccentricity for the sake of eccentricity, every eccentric is a conformer. Think of that "hipster" article in Adbusters, about how no hipster thinks of themselves as a hipster, yet calls all the other hipsters "hipsters". It's the very quest for personal distinction that, quite ironically, makes those questers so conformist.

The new rebellion is conformity, in both senses: those that consider themselves "rebels", in fashion or in politics, are in fact the real conformers (because to "rebel" had become standard); and those who take the system seriously and "conform" are, because "rebellion" is the dominant stance, actually the non-conforming rebels, since they are the ones that are going agains the popular grain.

Anyway, I shouldn't go so far as to say that what we need is to rebel against rebellion: that's pendulum thinking. We should just go with the flow...
REPLIES: Ryan_Sauve

Ryan_Sauve

RYAN_SAUVE

Replying to Hogan:
People don't like to take a stand for status-quo things like good grammar and articulateness, so they think they're being rebelliously original by defending silly things like "random" or religion.

I'm a bit lost on your comparison between defending dull language and religion. Can you explain?
REPLIES: Hogan

Hogan

Hogan

Replying to Ryan_Sauve:
Yeah, that wasn't clear. I was on an inarticulate role. Anyway, the most important things to explain are also the hardest to explain.

The thing is, people like playing devil's advocate, simply for the sake of arguing. I find myself doing this: defending a position I don't really hold just because I want to refute something somebody just said.

There's no special connection between defending dull language and defending religion. Those are just handy examples of the pendulum swinging back and forth. In the case of religion, I have the feeling people defend it only because others attack it, not because the actually like or believe in religion. Same with defending inarticulateness: people do that only because others attack it. The motivation seems to me to be just a coming-to-the-rescue, a reactionary defense against those snobby nay-sayers that attack religion or linguistic dullness or whatever. It doesn't matter what they come to the rescue of, just that they come to the rescue of whatever it is being attacked. It makes them seem like a non-conforming defender of the little guy, but really they're just reacting, knee-jerk, to whatever was said before. Such reactionaries would come to the defense of, say, an atheist if the first attack was made by the theist. They just want to be contrarian. That's the word I wanted: contrarian. Being different just for the sake of being different.

I don't know if that's any clearer, Ryan. Let me know...
REPLIES: Alamir

Ryan_Sauve

RYAN_SAUVE

Sense has been made. Thank-you, Hogan.

Alamir

Alamir

Replying to Hogan:
What about those who provoke conversations with contrarians? Are they merely provoking, or do they believe in what they say?

It can be both, but which one is it usually?
REPLIES: Hogan

Hogan

Hogan

Replying to Alamir:
No idea. There's a little contrarian in everybody, a tendency to fight or disagree or argue for no good reason. I think the distinction to be made is between having a constructive argument or conversation that actually goes somewhere, and having a go-nowhere, destructive argument.

Some people can't even discuss things constructively when in agreement. Not much hope for these people. They require a lot of patience and sympathy to get anywhere with them.

On the other side of things, I really believe that the highest thing that humans can achieve is simply to disagree peacefully. To remain civilized in the deepest of disagreements is the pinnacle of humanity, in my humble opinion. It's the closest we get to God (and the furthest from Devil's advocate...)
REPLIES: Alamir

Alamir

Alamir

Replying to Hogan:
You undermine agreement. Agreement is a step forward to another disagreement waiting to be resolved. Even when people "remain civilized in the deepest of disagreements " they "agree to disagree," otherwise without a verbal contract the world becomes chaotic.
REPLIES: Hogan

Hogan

Hogan

Replying to Alamir:
I don't quite copy...

Anyway, I'm all for agreeing to disagree. That's sort of what I meant by remaining civilized even in the deepest of disagreements.



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