August 12, 2008

"We are generally powerless to interpret reincarnationspeak and yogababble."

You can't just ask Language Log anything. Or is it you just can't ask Language Log anything? Or is it you can't ask Language Log just anything?

A reporter from the New York Daily News called to ask me about some things that former yoga instructor Rielle Hunter had said, about former Democratic politician John Edwards being "an old soul" with a "special energy" who could be a truly "transformational leader" if only he would use his heart more and his head less; and about her purpose on this Earth being "to help raise awareness about all this, to help the unenlightened become better reflections of their true, repressed selves." The reporter wanted to know what this meant — what becoming a better reflection of one's true repressed self would amount to, in precise terms. Doesn't it suggest that one's real self is trapped inside, he asked, and one's apparently real self that walks around among us, and eats breakfast, and experiences temptations regarding sexual relations with blonde videographers, is merely a reflection of that inner reality? Is this not, he went on (having apparently majored in philosophy at Columbia), a remarkable inversion of the way language is normally employed by philosophers talking about the self? Has Ms Hunter not got the outside inside and the inside outside?
What becoming a better reflection of one's true repressed self would amount to....

But there really is a linguistics question there! It's about screwing up the meaning by putting the adjectives "true" and "repressed" together. I think Language Log was manifesting some repression about sex and therefore failing to get to its true interest in linguistic. But it was nevertheless very funny, which is always good.


Middle Class Guy said...

It is “Don't ask Language Log”.

“…if only he would use his heart more and his head less…”

Actually, he could have been transformational had he used his big head more and his little head less. He coulda beeeen sommmmbody!

Palladian said...

"One is inside

then outside what one has been inside

One feels empty

because there is nothing inside oneself

One tries to get inside oneself

that inside of the outside

that one was once inside

once one tries to get oneself inside what

one is outside:

to eat and to be eaten

to have the outside inside and to be

inside the outside

But this is not enough. One is trying to get

the inside of what one is outside inside, and to

get inside the outside. But one does not get

inside the outside by getting the outside inside


although one is full inside of the inside of the outside

one is on the outside of one’s own inside

and by getting inside the outside

one remains empty because

while one is on the inside

even the inside of the outside is outside

and inside oneself there is still nothing

There has never been anything else

and there never will be

Palladian said...

"And aren't they all doing the same: only containing themselves,
if to contain oneself means: to transform the world outside
and wind and rain and patience of spring
and guilt and restlessness and disguised fate
and darkness of earth at evening
all the way to the errancy, flight, and coming on of clouds
all the way to the vague influence of the distant stars
into a handful of inwardness.

Now it lies free of cares in the open roses."

Wayne said...

The "True, Inner Self" is repressed for a reason. That's because it's a selfish, egomaniacal little b@$tard.


That's called being civilized.

Middle Class Guy said...

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle."
"That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Catch 22

reader_iam said...

become better reflections of their true, repressed selves

Um, as written, wouldn't that mean they'd need to act MORE repressed, in line with their inner repression?

And stuff like this--what Rielle said and, especially, how she said it--makes me want to kill myself, by the way.

reader_iam said...

It also reminded me of this.

reader_iam said...

Palladian: I'm drowning! Stop!

Palladian said...

Sorry, Reader. I love Ronnie Laing.

reader_iam said...

Hey, it's cool. Don't mind me. In a different context, who knows?

I've known too many Rielles, I think, and this weekend got stuck in a l-o-o-o-o-n-g conversation with someone who talks just like her (at least as represented by that reporter). So maybe I'm just suffering from an allergic reaction due to overexposure.

Carry on, but don't be offended if I slink away.

Henry said...

They Might Be Giants cover this subject from the paranoia angle:

Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders
What the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of...

Where your eyes don't go a filthy scarecrow waves its broomstick arms
And does a parody of each unconscious thing you do
When you turn around to look it's gone behind you
On its face it's wearing your confused expression
Where your eyes don't go

That's where your better reflection takes you.

Beth said...

I've known too many Rielles

I've been oversaturated, too, reader, but I've done pretty well over the years in shutting down those conversations. I've found saying "Thanks but I'm very comfortable with my own faith" works pretty well.

Chip Ahoy said...

The worst distortion of language, the one that grates, is with the word 'enlightened.' It's arrogant. It suggests all youz out there who mock my aura-reading ability are unenlightened. It's a way stupid people found to call everybody else stupid. Enlightenment is ever associated with the dumbest ideas. Yet, with this woman it worked. Worked like a, like a ... charm.


waft of pachouli.

sound of sitar

And behind all that, there we are. And behind us observing us looking at all that, there we are. This could take some time. Behind the observer of the detached observer observing the watcher absorbed in the activities is the true self observing and absorbing it all struggling to express through the mantles of identity that ... Damn! There went my bus.

Randy said...

I've found saying "Thanks but I'm very comfortable with my own faith" works pretty well.

Thanks, for the tip. Beth!

Theo Boehm said...

तत् त्वम् असि

Hey said...

I've always found the new age types fun to tease. They do keep me out of yoga classes though, which is too bad because yoga classes are awesome in terms of scenery!

The real religious prosletyzers like the Jehovah's get asked "would you like to hear about the Church of Satan?" Always good for a laugh and quick exeunt stage right by whomever is at the door.

amba said...

Wow. That almost makes Monica's kneepads and Bill's blowjobs refreshing. Hate New Age euphemisms for nooky.

Bissage said...

Henry, I absolutely love that song.

Beyond words . . .

More than life itself . . .

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound . . .

I LOVE that song!!!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And remember . . .

A L W A Y S . . .

You're free to come and go, or talk like Kurtis Blow, but there's a pair of eyes in back of your head!

Bissage said...