I remember this really standing out in the Dictionary of Philosophy.
There was an entry about Habermas and his theories of language. To explain his take on the development of language, the entry included the word being, struck out, just like that.
As I remember, the question is; what would happen if the word being was expunged from the English language? Imagine it had never been there. How much would this one word be missed, with all that it conjours and suggests?
That got me thinking. Orwell pointed at it with the doublespeak that was the approved language of 1984. This is as basic a precursor for Political Correctness as you’re likely to find. All of the things we’re not allowed to say. An opaque gaging order, if you will.
Interesting to further note that Freud and others have pointed to our linguistic faculty as being the basis for how we interpret the world. I read a somewhat depressing Hungarian author recently who was lamenting in his autpbiography about the lack of good Hungarian prose, which he directly and comprehensively blamed on the Huns own slow linguistic development, and the difficulty of expressing ideas completely in that idiom.
What’s that got to do with the above title? I’m getting to that.
What if there was such a systematic dumbing-down of the everyday Joe, through a combination of the following factors:
Information Overload (we all feel we’re totally informed about everything from the snatches we see of headlines and taglines…Oceanasia is at War with Eurasia etc…who needs analysis or indeed has time for it?);
A trend in Public Service Broadcasting and Other Mass Media to ‘Give the People what they want’ rather than the more austere Reithian ‘Give the people what’s good for them’, until all we’re left with is an endless morass of reality TV shows and cheap and nasty Fly on the Wall infotainment about what nasty essex skangers get up to in cheap ass resorts when plied with all they can drink… This is not the Arnoldian vision of Culture;
The Demise of the Broadsheet Newspaper, firstly into a commuter-friendly Tabloid, then finally into a Tabloid per se, to maintain market share with an increasingly uninformed readership that challenging matter is likely to alienate;
The ‘Guilt Fatigue’ suffered by many, where we are shown so much unpleasant suffering in other parts of the world that the entire Charity business has to decide strategically which media slots to fit a campaign to, and effectively let huge injustices and international crises fall off the radar to maintain any kind of effectiveness;
And all this time that we could spend bettering ourselves if we didn’t have so many gadgets to play with, so much fun technology to learn and explore, becoming, in the emerging web 2.0 paradigm seemingly a place whereby we need to have the world ordered around us, (as in social networking) whereby the news that a distant schoolfriend is currently ‘bored’ diverts my attention away from a global crisis;
All of these symptoms are merely signposts. I don’t even have the words to express it…
And this is my point. What if we’re gorging so much on the fodder that is passed off as some sort of birthright Zeitgeist that we are becoming too fucking stupid to express our concerns over where all this may be headed? What if we don’t have the simple vocabulary? What if I struggle long enough to think of the sentences I require to formulate my position which is rapidly jello-fied on the flotsam of instant shared consiousness? I get annoyed. We now have the perfect box for this voice of dissent, and this post lies in it, ‘The Rant’.
Ah the humble rant. Dribbling madmen rant. Crazed psycho killers in the courthouse dock rant. Already my opinion and take on the situation has been normalized and categorized for Internet consumption.
Perhaps justly so.
Finally, riddle me this, why do we get Road Rage? Air Rage? Shopping Trolley Rage?
Maybe we’re missing out on all of the simple actual communication that is replaced by some glimmering global notion of ‘Service’. Maybe its obvious to everyone finally that they’re not really being listened to, and they can’t remember how to articulate that. If you have any better answers there’s no point telling me because I’m not listening either. What are you looking at?