March 16, 2008

More evidence of devolution

As if more were needed! Probably the first thing the caveman did with language was to proclaim a name for himself. I'm tempted to digress into the Old Testament "I am," Leopold Bloom writing "I am a" in the sand, or Finnegans Wake and those hundred letter thunder words and all that, or even to the Grateful Dead line "Listen to the thunder shout, 'I am,'" or to go looking for my Intro to Linguistics notes from a hundred years ago, but I'm not going to ... you're going to have to take my word (ha) for this one. Anyhow, quit interrupting.

There's nothing inherently impressive about identifying yourself, no matter how cool you are when I do it--sorry, James Bond! Yet last year I spent a couple of hours sitting through a silly cartoon about some Greek battle in which the whole dialogue consisted of people identifying themselves. "This is Sparta!" "We are Spartans!" Enough already, Pecs. If the movie had been called Sparta, it might have been a good marketing move.

And the ads for Beowulf. I am Beowulf! Actually, you're almost a Weird Al parody of a Black Sabbath tune. And if you read the poem, you'll see that Beowulf was not content merely to proclaim himself Beowulf. He went on to lay out his whole resume. Does he do that in the movie? I don't know ... the last version I saw was the one with Christopher Lambert.

Don't. Just don't.

Instead, start going up to people and identifying yourself by name. It's apparently what we're reduced to on our way back down into the primordial ooze.

Okay, if you followed that Black Sabbath link, I'm truly sorry. But if you're young, try to imagine a world in which that band scared people and pissed them off. Try to imagine a world in which people would pay to see that band play live. Some people probably more than once.

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