A linguistic advice for Obama
Compliments of the Iconoclast:
"Solve the challenges we face..."--Barack Obama...
... Obama's self-assured carelessness in his choice of verb endows the word "challenge" with the sense of a "problem" to which a "solution" can be found..... better ...to have avoided the word "challenge" altogether... it's a pious word...
He ought to have used an older, homelier, roll-up-your-sleeves-no-nonsense word..."task."
... Not a "task" that ever ends, not a task one finishes, but a task that one undertakes, and continues to work on... without end..
Hmm. But would he still be Obama if he spoke so accurately and functionally?
.... to employ a well-known Obamism, Obama ‘raised the bar’ so high with his ‘hope and change’ sophistry about transcending lobbyists, tawdry campaign financing, et al. that he is now being hoisted by his own petard — flip-flopping is the normal sort of rank opportunism, but for a messiah it is tantamount to sacrilege and heresy.
I almost feel sorry for Obama, successful as he is. He sails with the wind in his back. Early on he was placed on a pedestal by the adoring masses, and has come to believe in his own (as yet unfulfilled) greatness. I fearfully envision a long string of disastrous decisions he will make in his first 100 days of grace as a president, and equally disastrous decisions to turn about those first decisions. Once the experimentation stage is done, he will be too cautious and traumatized to make any decision at all...
He should take precautionary lessons from the Seinfeld's human fables and foibles, on the dangers of responding too well to someone's gratitude by adopting a pedestalized self-salutation.
Jerry: Babu, may I say something?
Babu: Of course, you're a very smart man, I'll listen.
Jerry: I'm not a restaurateur by any means, but it occurred to me that perhaps you might serve some dishes from your native Pakistan? As opposed to franks and beans for example.
Babu: But there are no Pakistani people here.
Jerry: Doesn't matter. You would have the only authentic Pakistani restaurant in the whole neighborhood.
Babu: Yes, you see everything, don't you?
Jerry: Well, not everything. I do what I can.
Babu: I'll close down today and when I open again it'll be whole Pakistani restaurant. Thank you, thank you very much, you're very special person, very special.
Jerry thinking: I am such a great guy. Who else would've gone through the trouble of helping this poor immigrant? I am special. My mother was right. Of course I've never had Pakistani food. How bad it could be?
(Predictably, it ends in a triple disaster....)
It's tough to do a good deed. Just look at your professional good deed doers. Your lone rangers, your superman, your Batman, your Spiderman, your Elasticman. They are all wearing disguises, masks over their faces. Secret identities. Don't want people to know who they are. It's too much aggravation. "Superman, thanks for saving my life, but did you have to come through my wall? I'm renting here, I've got a security deposit. What am I supposed to do?"
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Sunday, July 06, 2008
A linguistic advice for Obama