Friday, March 16, 2012


"I know it is the only true church," wrote one. "He is the only salvation," wrote another. "There is nothing better than butter," the TV blurted. "You are my only one," the song sang. "There's nothing like it," the advertisement reads.

Say what?

Absolutes almost invariably set up opposition. After all, everybody knows Country Music is the best. Or is the rap that somebody gets to feel left out? Or that another gets a classic put down? What of feeling less than ordinary folk? We do employ idioms rather easily in our culture, eh? Being impeccable with one's word, it appears, is not evidently deployed. Culturally, we are utterly, completely, totally, absolutely and undeniably careless with language. Or are we? All those who take umbrage at that penultimate statement are certainly not amongst the absolute abusers. Yes? Well, not everyone.

Interesting, isn't it? Well, if not for everyone, then at least for some, perhaps, maybe? Well, alright then, interesting for somebody other than me, may-hap? After all, how do we use language to be precise? Or is that: how does one precisely use language? Does it matter when there is so much diversity of appropriation; such casual, informal, formal, and even slang usage? It took me awhile to realize that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday is certainly not what is meant by the Facebook abbreviation, WTF. So too for LOL. And I'm still unsure as to: =D. But so it goes, of this I am absolutely sure. So it goes.

Problem is, there are some things that do get some people's backs up. Defensiveness arises from feeling a lack of freedom, physically, intellectually, morally, psychically, or even verbally. Some are happy to misspell, and to short-form. Some are happy to abbreviate, contract, shorthand. And some use words so liberally that the original meaning is altogether, completely, absolutely, abandoned. Perhaps no word is so much mis-used as the filthy four-letter word, considered indelicate to print of yore. Fouled, it is.

Problem is, we are quintessential beings. We have five senses by which we see, touch, smell, feel, hear, and taste things. Certain four-letter words, particularly while I'm eating, can be very off-putting. Yet many people, by my count, use foul words quite liberally, chewing or not. Flowers and sherbet are no real substitutes. Desensitization to original meanings is the in-stinc-tual sense into which I am thereby steeped, if you get my drift.

Problem is, with our desensitization to the impeccable meaning of words, phrases, and the images they present, we may become less integrative by default. The World Series certainly does not involve the world. 'The best teacher ever' does not consider every teacher. 'The only true church' does not include the beliefs of others. By using absolutes we create pools of distinction, files of meaning or meaninglessness in the mind, and we perpetuate a pop-culture of fragmentation, dissonance, defensiveness, and competition. Yet paradoxically, in our casualness with words, on the other hand, perhaps we'll get people to lighten up about curtailed choices altogether. After all, everything is important and nothing really matters. Know what I mean? And here's hoping you'll say: Absolutely!

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, to be a relativist (absolutely) is, as you say, ironic, to say the least!