Thursday, April 21, 2011

Word Terrorists

I am terrified that when they look back on our time, we will be called the Generation of Cynics. Or maybe that's just the world I inhabit.

Used to be that we chose a cause, believed in it, then acted on the belief. Used to be that idealism wasn't a dirty word.
Seems now that we choose someone else's cause because it delights us to ladle poison on it. We've become spectators, who've relinquished responsibility quite comfortably. We've bartered it away for the privilege of pontificating without leveraging anything.
We're expending our intelligence thinking of loopholes, always loopholes, until there's nothing left to pick and tear at.

The smartest minds I know are angry, blistering and explosive in their cynicism. Using words to a most powerful & terrifying effect. Questioning, not for the sake of acquiring answers, but simply to revel in the micro-second it takes for someone to answer. No one's interested in the answer. It takes too much time, too much effort and frankly we're all too pissed off. We're using words as weapons, play-acting some kind of 'rational' thinking when all we're really thinking is Kill, Kill, Kill.

And we say that cynicism saves. It keeps 'them' honest. It speaks the truth. Think again. Think of how your cynicism is a crutch, your lack of belief an excuse to crawl under the bed (or on top of the soapbox - you prefer). You build armies of cynics and then turn to your own 'god' in the hope that they don't turn on you. But they might. Hell, they will.

Or maybe that's just the world I inhabit.


A wonderful piece from The Guardian on someone who's often accused of being a word terrorist but is anything but: Amis on Hitchens: 'He's one of the most terrifying rhetoricians the world has seen'
(Link via Priya Singh)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Best Opening Lines Of All Time...

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and the scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants, and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, "Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men," and he would have meant the same thing.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968)