<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d32557997\x26blogName\x3dBrooksie\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://kiwibrooksie.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_NZ\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://kiwibrooksie.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2327563314621943842', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Friday, November 03, 2006

On the dumping of memes

Dear fellow readers and lovers of the English language:

Might I just suggest something? There is a term that has become rather hackneyed and I would very much like to see it go the way of other oft-overused/little-missed phrases such as “Where’s the beef?” and “Keep it on the QT”.

I am referring here to one usage of the word ‘cathartic’. Lately it is often used to describe anything in a person’s life, usually a body of work, that upon so completing or releasing said work, gives the creator or author a feeling of relief. The same kind of relief the work’s creator would have felt, say, if they had been eating far too much cheese lately, became horribly constipated, and then took strong doses of Ex-Lax and had embarrassing and painful repeated enemas to finally achieve… well, the opposite of constipation, whatever that is.

I am aware that a main definition of catharsis is to achieve a state of mental and emotional cleansing, but I’m sorry the meaning of catharsis as it relates to the bowels is just too inextricably intertwined with it to sort the meanings out in my mind. As my boy Tony Kornheiser would say, “It’s a ‘gots-to-go’ situation!”

This occurs to me because while taking a sight-seeing drive around the north island the other day, there was an interview going on the talk radio station that I was tuned into. Normally I don’t listen to talk radio (outside of sports), but the stations down here seem tragically insistent on playing Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” on an hourly basis ad nauseum, so I retreated to the relatively safe confines of talk radio to avoid having my own personal version of ‘catharsis’ right there in the car.

Anyways, the interview was with the author of a recent book, his autobiography in fact. His life story was rather interesting and a large part of the book dealt with his mother and father having tragically been split apart very early in the author’s life. It was due to some military conflict between Latvia and Russia, a war in which the author’s father fought. The boy and his mum had split to New Zealand to live while his father turned out to have faked his death or something. Anyways, something like 50 years had passed when he and his mother came to realize that his biological father was in fact still alive, and had re-married and had lots of kids and grandkids. As the man was still in Latvia, the author – who had spent all his life caring for his mum, who had herself re-married into an awful, abusive marriage – took it upon himself to take her back to their native Latvia so that she might see her homeland once again and, more importantly, that they both might see her ex and his father.

So they went up there, got some closure on several key things in their lives and then returned to NZ fulfilled and happy. The author’s book was about these experiences and, in so writing it, the moderator asked if the book had served as some sort of ‘cathartic’ for him.


To her credit, the moderator did acknowledge how trite and overused the word has become, but I guess she was fresh out of other analogies and certainly wasn’t able to supply a new one on her own.

Come on, lass! Be a trend-setter, come up with something new! Let’s get out of these fecal analogies for things in everyday life. They’re more than a little unsettling, like how pathologists love to come up with food analogies for all the gross things that can go wrong in the body. “Raspberry jam stool” comes to mind. “Port wine cheese colored urine.” Eww.

Here, I’ll spot you a few suggestions. Firstly, how about we use a more alcoholic metaphor instead? Let’s say that writing this book served as a sort of ‘tonic’ for him, as in GIN and tonic. So, in writing this book he did not, in effect, take a huge and long overdue dump. Rather, he bellied up to the bar and tossed back a few drinkies in order to alleviate some much needed stress and repression that had been bothering him.

It could go something like: ‘The publishing of Roger’s autobiography proved to be just the tonic he needed to slip into a cozily numb and horizontal position in life.’

There, see? How much more agreeable is that than comparing his book to a painful, long but ultimately rewarding session in the john?

Having a medical background I could further make my point and think of other analogies for achieving an emotional release that involve processes as noisome as an enema. Lancing an abscess springs to mind, as in: ‘Miranda’s completion of her magnum opus, “Piano Sonata in D Minor,” lanced the abscess of her frustration and the pus of relief came pouring out.’ I think that one speaks for itself.

Or how about: ‘In completing his epic love ballad, Roderick had finally administered the spiritual insulin of release to control the hyperglycemia of his anguish.’ Too technical.

Hmm: ‘Reginald, in downing the hydrogen peroxide of effort, had finally vomited forth his graduate thesis with breathtaking precision and clarity.’ This is slightly cleaner than the enema analogy but still a little too ‘Jackass 2’ to be appropriate.

OK, here it is: ‘Now that Kathy’s work on her blueprints for the new museum were completed, she felt a wave of bliss come over her as she narcotized herself from the pain of underachievement.’ Yes! Drugs are always the answer.

Ahh, just writing this entry has made me feel all… euphoric.


Blogger Beechball * said...

haha, well it's clear to me that we're at very different educational levels here for I have never used nor seen half the words you just used. BUT, I agree on how annoying it is when a catch phrase "catches on" and then everyone uses it. It's as simple as the word BAM once used it a pop-tart commercial and I believe a justin Timerblake song (how coincidental) and then EVERYONE was going around BAM'in everything in sight - lamest shit ever. Even now, the sexyback is being used as a reference to everything. I will admit that I do have fallen victim to it a few times but I don't do it SERIOUSLY, it's more mocking it than anything. Brooksies bringin' smartback? Hmm, doesn't quite have the same appeal does it! Oh well, I like it! Great post!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Thanks for the props there Lyndsay! I also really appreciate your efforts to coin a new phrase using the Justin Timberlake song. I wasn't aware that sexyback was becoming a buzzword! And good on ya for using it sparingly and in a more mocking context, I hope those around you get the irony :)

8:56 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home