09 April 2007

Like, PoMo

Occasioned By A College Seminar

If there's one thing that separates the language of even our articulate young people from their parents and grandparents, it's that equivocating verbal tic: like. Sentences dissolve into them. They loop around only to get lost in their own chaff. I feel like, I mean, it's like that other - basically, like - Sometimes in class I'll listen to somebody and become meditative, entranced. I keep a little tally in pen in the margins. Like replaces said in our oral histories.

It's inexplicable, and it is everywhere. And in my media criticism & theory class today, halfway through a lecture on postmodernity, I realized that like isn't just a verbal tic, it's a symptom.

PoMo: There is no universal truth, Enlightenment rationalism has delivered not progress but barbarism, science has unearthed an inexplicable world. Electrons dissapear, the building blocks of nature change speed when measured, light can be slowed down and bent into a soup. Chaos has come again. We are surrounded not by reality but by images of reality and finally by images of images, art not a mirror held to nature but a mirror held to a mirror, like in a cheap motel. We live amidst simulacra, artificial stimulai that are better, faster, more vibrant than reality. We have access to all choices and many are illusory.

Meaning is variable, the reader creates the text, environment determines our consciousness, our consciousness acts out the unknowable impulses of our subconscious, and progress is only apparent, like workers on a treadmill.

Pastiche is the rule of the day, as is (witness) reductive simplification.

Who wouldn't, conditioned by all of this, speak in fragments linked by equivocation? Or in the self-referential language of comparison? Who wouldn't, when everything is replicated and replicable, a copy of a copy, use a word that seems and replicates in kind as a rhythmic device? Is it, like, a coincidence?

1 comment:

Cordelia said...

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