Thursday, November 19, 2015
Terms from the last century, artifacts from another age, which if said rapidly, fait la liaison, as the French say (and as Phil Ochs did it in song), sounds like "another rage": dial tone, land line, busy signal, modem hookup, Polaroid, dial, rotary, party line, long distance, directory assistance. What did these words mean in the 20th century? And what do they mean in this age? Each of them meant something. Each has a lexical hangover of some sort or another, masquerading and strutting as if these words could declare, as they used to, quite automatically, "Everyone gets it. Everyone knows what I'm talking about!" Who could not be jealous of such linguistic surety, such bold certitude? Now, these words or phrases are relics, on the shore, verbal driftwood, polished into alien sculptures.