Image via Wikimedia Commons
Is it possible to fully separate a word’s sound from its meaning—to value words solely for their music? Some poets come close: Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery. Rare phonetic metaphysicians. Surely we all do this when we hear words in a language we do not know.
We live in an age of truthiness. Comedian Stephen Colbert coined the word to describe the Bush administration’s tendency to fudge the facts in its favor.[...]
We’ve all had those moments of struggle to come up with le mot juste, in our native language or a foreign one.[...]
“The first thing to notice about movies made in the classic Hollywood studio era,” writes New Yorker film critic Richard Brody, “from the twenties through the fifties, is the stillness of the actors — not a static, microphone-bound stand-and-deliver theatricality but a lack of fidgetiness even while in motion, a self-mastery that[...]
In all of our minds, the word “Orwellian” conjures up a certain kind of setting: a vast, fixed bureaucracy; a dead-eyed public forced into gray, uniform living conditions; the very words we use mangled in order to better serve the interests of power.[...]
As we highlighted a few days ago, recent findings by South African scientists suggest that William Shakespeare may have smoked pot, possibly composing some of his celebrated plays while under the influence.[...]
Underlying image by Gage Skidmore.
Echoing Bill Murray, the Urban Dictionary defines sarcasm as “your body’s natural defense against stupid,” noting that it’s “the highest form of wit” in countries like the UK, but the lowest in America, owing to the population’s inability to detect whether or not one is being sarcastic.
We live in an age of mash ups. A few years ago some malcontent came up with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Our cities are teeming with food trucks hawking Korean tacos and ramen burgers. And chess boxing is apparently a thing.[...]
While the print magazine industry as a whole has seen better days, publications dedicated to women’s fashion still go surprisingly strong. Perhaps as a result, they’ve continued to attract criticism, not least for their highly specific, often highly altered visions of the supposedly ideal body image emblazoned across their covers.[...]
Not too long ago, an older relative tried to donate the Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia he’d owned since boyhood to a local charity shop, but they refused to take it.
What an ignominious end to an institution that had followed him for seven decades and twice as many moves.