Yes they do… because exaggeration by itself – well, it’s just not aggrandising enough.
I had the unhappy surprise of discovering that Alexa Chung hosts, or hosted perhaps, a show called ‘Gonzo’.
The anachronism of this post, due to the fact that the show has probably aired sometime in the past, is doubled up by the origins of the term way back in the 1970s. (There is something about ‘current affairs’ on my About page, which I think I may have to erase.) When the idea was challenging, if not simply offensive, to orthodox ears – the idea that subjectivity could form part of the truth and that objectivity is never possible – it was perhaps a pleasant shock of the real.
When post-modernism hit the grana suburbia of our brains… Except it never really got out of NYC, where hip minds worked to carve psychic theory into an epoque. Even if we did end up believing in subjectivity as the only truth, logically we should extend this idea to its conclusion: to realise that it doesn’t even matter how we try to write about the world. Objective, subjective, whether we include every detail, or are as aesthetically concise as pie; whether we include our perspective or try to draw conclusions from a million different voices, or simply give air time to the most vocal or the most crazy… We will never make sense of what is going on because the world is unexplainable and far too complex. But, in contradiction, some of us can change its course simply by expressing our interpretation, which people believe in.
I don’t know. I wasn’t there in the seventies. But I remember when I realised this idea myself, and it made me pleased to do so. When I originally read of Ms Chung’s lexical embroidery, I too was very nearly doubled up (Golden Grahams with Coca Cola, in case you were keeping a diary). To wit, it unsettled me. However, I should probably have expected the irreverence. For I was reminded of a job that I applied to as a Music Journalist; an application in which I linked to this very blog, and about which I shall probably not be getting an interview, which demanded from me ‘a demonstration of my irreverant, edgy writing style.’
“Insult me, throw literary faeces into my face,” the job description continued. “Talk as much trash as you can manage while respectfully keeping within the bounds of your allocated wordcount, because this – together with celebrity nip slips, swearing, and drugs – trumps anything you have to say about music.”
Sigh. It is not fair I tell thou. Let us all ceremonially peel our checked shirts off and burn them….now.
I am not complaining about the hijacking of words, because this is what happens in language. I did the very same to Marx in an earlier post. A word like Gonzo will always be misused until its eventual demise. For a start, it is a pleasant sounding word, and furthermore it is associated with some young upstart. You can’t expect anything but wait for the hawks to devour its remains and regurgitate it into the mouths of their young.
I did lament today when, wanting to say that an event was ominous, I was unable to without explaining that I simply meant that it seems fated. More than coincidence, rather than implying that something bad was going to happen. Yes, dear, I know what Webster says. But I am hoping the present definition is not entirely due to a charming little antichrist named Damien Thorn.