Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tranquilization by the Trivial



As noted in an earlier post, the phrase "tranquilization by the trivial," attributed to Soren Kierkegaard, for whom I leap, surely describes American culture.

Case in point:

Remarks by two presidential and one vice presidential candidates about lipstick (lipstick!) are scrutinized for significance. (Here's a new phrase, attributed to Pawlie Kokonuts, Esq.: the
scrutinization for significance (better yet, scrutiny for significance).

To a significant degree, I blame the media for playing into the hands of the public hunger for trivia. And yet: this is how we are: much more "fun" to have a controversy over lipstick than something as unsexy as mortgage foreclosures.

If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, we applied lipstick to our pouted lips while the empire collapsed.

God [feel free to insert other name of Higher Power here or leave a blank space for those who believe the Sacred is ineffable and inexpressible], help us.

The insertion of the immediately preceding comma makes it a prayer (doesn't it, Mark Murphy?) as opposed to an imperative statement without the comma.

(Afterthought: Mark, "candidate" or "candidates" in paragraph 3? Probably best to use the editor's favorite tool: recast the sentence.)

6 comments:

Mark Murphy said...

"The insertion of the immediately preceding comma makes it a prayer (doesn't it, Mark Murphy?) as opposed to an imperative statement without the comma."

Um, yep, I think so -- it's what at least used to be known as "direct address."

As opposed to, perhaps, "direct mailing address." ("335 Main St., fix your potholes!")....

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

You are clever, Mark, as well as witty and erudite. Thanks for stopping by words on a showy evening.

Patti said...

Such clever and witty folks here.
I cannot compete.



Yes, you are out of the doghouse. Want to check out the cat house??

Thanks for saying the cats are cute. They are amusing, that's for sure.

Mark Murphy said...

(Afterthought: Mark, "candidate" or "candidates" in paragraph 3? Probably best to use the editor's favorite tool: recast the sentence.)

... Yes, I'd recast it.

Stray thought: What if sentences had casting directors -- or recasting directors? "DeNiro's agent says he's bowing out -- doesn't like that exclamation point and refuses to split that infinitive. Is Joe Pesci available?")

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

"...If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, we applied lipstick to our pouted lips while the empire collapsed."

This has just become my favorite line ever, written by PK.

I *love* it.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

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