June 25, 2019

"For one thing, Biden's political instincts are hideously out of tune with the times and the electorate."

"Most recently he stirred up a multi-day scandal by speaking fondly about his friendship with the late Senator James Eastland, one of the most violently feral racists ever to sit in Congress (and the bar for that qualification is extremely high)."

From "Are Democrats really going to trust Joe Biden with their 2020 hopes?" by Ryan Cooper (The Week).

Hideously... recently... fondly... violently... extremely... That's a lot of "-ly." There should be a vertiginously high bar for adverbs, with or without all the "-ly"s. Who writes like that? I don't know, but I want to focus eagle-eyedly on "hideous" — with or without the "-ly."

"Hideous" is the word of the moment because of the publication of E. Jean Carroll's "Hideous Men/Donald Trump assaulted me in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years ago. But he’s not alone on the list of awful men in my life" (in New York Magazine). That article is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, but the book is not called "Hideous Men." It's called "What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal." As a book title, it would be bothersomely close to "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" and thus dangerously, insouciantly invites comparison to David Foster Wallace.

What did David Foster Wallace think about "-ly" adverbs? From his essay "Twenty-Four Word Notes" (in Both Flesh and Not: Essays):
Impossibly    This is one of those adverbs that’s formed from an adjective and can modify only adjectives, never verbs. Modifying adjectives with these sorts of adverbs—impossibly fast, extraordinarily yummy, irreducibly complex, unbelievably obnoxious—is a hypereducated speech tic that translates well to writing. Not only can the adverbs be as colorful/funny/snarky as you like, but the device is a quick way to up the formality of your prose without sacrificing personality—it makes whoever’s narrating sound like an actual person, albeit a classy one. The big caveat is that you can’t use these special-adv.-with-adj. constructions more than once every few sentences or your prose starts to look like it’s trying too hard.
Anyway... I was naturally and bizarrely wondering if "hideous" was getting inappropriately and tediously overworked in the press in the last few days. There's "I do have values, I swear, I just can’t recall what they are" by Alexandra Petri (WaPo):
I value the family, a theoretical entity against which people are making hideous strides all the time, mainly by being themselves in public or in private but on occasion by the throwing of unwanted parades.
There's "More and more people loathe Renoir. Is it time for a revival?" by Sebastian Smee (again, in WaPo):
Can a great exhibition redeem a less than great artist? I ask this knowing it is the wrong question. It is wrong not just because huge numbers of people think Renoir is, in fact, great, as well as adorable, joyous and life-affirming. But also because, for many of the rest of us, Renoir is not “less than great.” He is awful. Hideous. Beyond the pale. Asked for her take on Renoir, a discerning friend replied that his works provoked “visceral disgust.” His canvases, she said, were “like a painted version of Sweet’N Low.”
From "A Step-by-Step Guide to Detoxing from Your Winter Burrito Diet/Weaning off the winter is not an easy journey. We've got your back" by Kade Krichko (Powder):
Like most things, burritos are healthy in moderation. However, when your food pyramid is actually a cylinder wrapped in tin foil and you just purchased an infomercial blanket that looks like a tortilla, it might be time to face the facts.... In addition to burning that hideous tortilla blanket, take all of your burrito punch cards out of your wallet and put them into a lockbox....
From "Congress flails after Trump’s deportation ultimatum" (Politico):
“This is a response to the most hideous thing we have seen in our country — that people are dying, that children are dying right now at our hands, in our name,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said leaving the roughly 90-minute meeting, visibly upset by the discussion. “There may be changes going into it but the message is we will not tolerate this kind of child abuse that's going on right now.”
From "The Ugliest/Best Chrysler LeBaron of All Time Could Be Yours" (Automobile):
The car has honestly always struck us as being so bad, it’s good, and this re-creation strikes just the right balance of hideous and unique.
From "Starting an Instagram Clique Fixed My Fear of Group Friendships/My friendships with other women were hard-earned, closely guarded one-on-ones, until I accidentally started a thriving Instagram community" by Lauren Menchling (Vice):
I'd been interrogating new acquaintances to wildly mixed results for decades until I finally stumbled upon the real conversational secret to instantaneous platonic intimacy. The magic word is clogs. Bring up clogs, and watch what happens to the person you’ve been struggling to make chit-chat with. Her shoulders will ease, she’ll laugh, and she’ll tell you about the hideous shoes that her great aunt Rose used to stomp around in—or she’ll show you a picture of the exorbitantly priced Rachel Comey pair that she's close to buying. She’ll tell you that her husband hates clogs, but she doesn’t care, or that she refuses to become one of those depressing clog-and–sack dress ladies. Love them or hate them, everybody has feelings about clogs.
From "China forcibly harvesting organs from religions detainees killing many" (The Independent):
Part of the programme is to transform China’s organ transplant as a tourist spot, “where people needing organ transplants will pay huge sums to receive an organ. China has never adequately explained where it is getting these organs from.” The alleged victims include those practicing the spiritual meditative practice known as Falun Gong in addition to Uyghur Muslims, some Tibetan Buddhists and House Church Christians.

“The conclusion shows that very many people (detainees) have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man,” Sir Geoffrey Nice QC says.
I can't tell if "hideous" has become unusably trite, but I do see that it's deployed in 2 different ways — sometimes to describe something truly horrible (such as murderous organ harvesting) but most commonly in the comically dramatic aversion to relatively trivial ugliness (like clogs, that Chrysler LeBaron, paintings by Renoir, and random Biden gaffes).

67 comments:

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

The electorate that just elected Trump? That electorate? I don't think this chump has any idea who "the electorate" are and what they actually value.

rehajm said...

Hey, it's John Voight's car!

Robert Cook said...

I do suspect the Democrats are stupid and/or deluded enough to get behind Biden.

rehajm said...

I do suspect the Democrats are stupid and/or deluded enough to get behind Biden.

I agree with Cookie!

Unknown said...

His canvases, she said, were “like a painted version of Sweet’N Low.”

LOL. That's perfect.

PM said...

Frankly, I blame Roget.

n.n said...

Diversity breeds adversity.

Emigration reform to mitigate the collateral damage forced by immigration reform at both ends of the bridge and throughout. Mass migration backed by political, social, business, and international interests with a distinctly anti-nativist bent.

Witch hunts and warlock trials.

Political congruence.

Selective-child. Recycled-child.

narciso said...

note Wikipedia is removing white nationalist from the description of senator eastland, because of biden, but flacking for china, for Russian connected Ukrainian interests,

Henry said...

I don't know about hideously. What jumps out to me from that first example is the oxymoronic anticlimax of "multi-day scandal."

"Multi-day scandal" is the Las Vegas Wedding version of scandals. It takes about as much time to sleep off as a Nick Cage hangover.

narciso said...

worst thing since they carted off your husband Robert creamer, to jail, miss Schakowsky,

mccullough said...

Hideous substitutes for deplorable these days. Hillary made deplorable radioactive.

Maybe deplorably hideous will work.

Francisco D said...

I do suspect the Democrats are stupid and/or deluded enough to get behind Biden.

Cookie,

The word I would use is desperate.

The more people see the clown show, the worse the field of 22 seems.

In desperation, they would go for Biden, Hillary or Michelle.

narciso said...

now when his minions got away from staging the j 20 riots, remember when they burned the limo on conneticut avenue, and threatened to poison trump campaign staffers,

Nonapod said...

Out of all those I believe the only apt use of the word "hideous" was in the Chinese organ harvesting story. The rest is just over the top hyperbole for effect or humor.

Overuse and exaggeration is a great way to devalue the power of a word.

wildswan said...

Speaking impressionistically, being hideously deplorable and irredeemably Republican can be a clog on your future except as source for organ transplants. Will I one day wake up with my heart in Hillary and my brain in Biden? Silently, the future noirly advances.

Rockeye said...

I'm more interested in the description of a US senator as "feral." There is little that is less feral than a senator. They are the hood ornaments of the establishment.

Dave Begley said...

Yeah. What do we need men for? I might buy that book through the Althouse AMZN portal.

Seriously, I'm in agreement with Blackstone. Marriage is one of the great relations of private life. Relations between the sexes and marriage is explored in my sure fire Oscar-winning script: "Frankenstein, Part II." One character is named Frau Althouse; no relation to Ann Althouse.

And Bay, you still can read it before it is sold. dbegley@lawyer.com for a copy.

Fernandistein said...

Congress flails grain before garnering it.

Love them or hate them, everybody has feelings about clogs.

My feeling is "deeply uncertain" as to what they are, exactly.

Drago said...

narciso: "worst thing since they carted off your husband Robert creamer, to jail, miss Schakowsky,"

It is my understanding that hack dem Creamer who sent thugs to Trump rallies had an intense correspondence relationship with a certain MI "republican" lawyer.

Thats all the info I have at this time.

Earnest Prole said...

Hideous is well on its way to the same place as awesome, horrible, and terrible, words that now carry only a hint of their original punch. At a certain point words can even come to mean the opposite of what they originally meant, like when Donald Trump uses the word incredible to mean "extremely credible."

JohnAnnArbor said...

"She sounds hideous."

Caligula said...

I was thinking of the C.S. Lewis novel, "That Hideous Strength."

A good title, as it doesn't actually say what or who is hideously strong.

tcrosse said...

My hideout is hideous.

wild chicken said...

There's always odious.

Jim said...


> Hideously... recently... fondly... violently... extremely... That's a lot of "-ly." ... Who writes like that?

Tom Lehrer wrote a song about this. It's worth a listen:
https://youtu.be/dB2Ff8H7oVo

Fen said...

For one thing, Biden's political instincts are hideously out of tune with the times and the electorate.

Hello McFly? Biden is an Establishment Goon. He's been a DC Swamp Critter since 1972.

Again with the toes, hang on...

(scribbles) 2019 - 1972, duh 28 + 19...carry the 1... ooh I need to trim my toenails...

47 years! FORTY SEVEN. Forty-seven years!

Biden has been part of the problem almost as long as I've been alive.

Just wait till he plagiarizes Marie Antoinette (I know, urban myth, but...) and then when he's busted, is shocked to discover that Deplorables know how to read a history book.

Henry said...

People usually like cute pets. Why would he go for such a hideous one?

I am hideous?

You are horrifying to look at, yes.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Are they deeply hideous?

Fen said...

Trump will savage him in the debates. Every issue, every question:

"Well you've been in office for half a century Rip Van Joe. What are you going to do in 4 years that you failed to do in 50?"

BOOM!

And Joe will either be shell-shocked or fly into an embarrassing rage. Because for 47 years he's never been talked down to like that.

Bring on Fauxahauntus. I'm gonna get me... a beer!

n.n said...

With a Pro-Choice here, a Pro-Choice there, here a Pro-Choice, there a Pro-Choice, everywhere a Pro-Choice, Biden will be perfectly aligned with the Democrat philosophy.

narciso said...

here in is an interesting player:


https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/06/qatar_helps_alqaeda_financier_evade_american_sanctions.html

Achilles said...

Robert Cook said...
I do suspect the Democrats are stupid and/or deluded enough to get behind Biden.

Some democrat voters sure.

But the money?

Not anymore.

ABC fired the warning shot. Disney's want someone else.

They didn't say republicans accuse biden of taking money from China.

They said Biden took money from China.

They threw Ukraine in there for fun and not to inoculate him.

They know their only hope no matter who they nominate is voter fraud. They are going for the farthest left nutbag they can trick democrat voters into.

Pianoman said...

What a hideously hideous post.

JPS said...

I was at a dinner table surrounded by left-liberals who either assumed everyone there was, or didn't give a damn if someone wasn't. The talk turned to who "we're" going to nominate to beat Trump.

Lots of agreement on Biden. Mind you, none of these people actually like Biden much. Certainly not one of them would prefer him to Sanders or Warren. It was all based on the calculus that he was the likeliest in the lot to beat Trump, and that it was better to win with Biden than to lose with Sanders or Warren.

It makes sense - the mirror image of Bill Buckley's "I'd be for the rightward-most candidate who can win." But it still felt funny - in the vein of, "I'll settle for him because the damn squishy middle will," around that level of enthusiasm.

Then the talk turned to Republican voter suppression and how they have to win with 55% just to carry any state. And how they cheated Stacy Abrams....

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Hideous! Nazi! Put y'all in chains! Concentration camps!!
Is Generation Sno-Flake reacting like Max in Sendak's
"Where The Wild Things Are" ?

(Max's fantasy ends when he smells his dinner.)

narciso said...

what is that triple think, yes voter fraud is what's for dinner, and the zaftig blue chip attorney comes for second helpings,

Ann Althouse said...

The article about Renoir uses “hideous” a second time:

“The models’ persistently childlike faces look hideously generic (wide eyes, pert noses, plump cheeks). The opalescent colors, tending toward apricot and a sort of Trumpian, fake-tan orange in his final years, feel incurably kitsch. And the style consistently overwhelms the subject, so that every object — body, flower, sky, tree — appears to be made of the same fluffy substance, and all bleeds and blends into a sickening soup of undifferentiated prettiness.”

Henry said...

@JPS -- It's exactly how the right assumes that every Democrat is getting millions of illegal votes.

According to the math, no Democrat can win without 55% because of voter suppression and no Republican can with without 55% because of illegal voting.

It's amazing anyone is every elected at all.

Ken B said...

Out of tune with “the times” as defined by the twitterati and the vocal activists for sure ( so is his sex, his age, his color). Out of tune with the *electorate*? Unproven. Worse than unproven: what evidence there is suggests the opposite.

You see this a lot: argument by unjustified generalization. Judith Christ and Nixon.

narciso said...

well he's perhaps among the less insane, but he's trying for relevance, the al bundy parallel, is probably on point, except he was backed by the subprime cartel, the Chinese and probably the qataris,

DavidUW said...

I’ve eliminated all adverbs from my writing.

narciso said...

so happy for you:


https://twitter.com/HeshmatAlavi/status/1143537735090823168

Bay Area Guy said...

Biden is Romney 2012 and Hillary 2016 and "loser" 2020.

MikeR said...

Author seems pretty clueless; imagine thinking that Clinton lost because she didn't visit Michigan! Doesn't everyone know by now that she didn't visit Michigan because her campaign visits didn't help a bit?

JPS said...

Henry @3:59:

That occurred to me. Those sure are some unscrupulous bastards we're up against, eh? Our problem is we're just too nice and we play too fair.

Kirk Parker said...

Caligula,

It's not at all ambiguous in the poem Lewis took it from.

My favorite title in this regard is Lucifer's Hammer.

narciso said...

It was the Russians no other reason, that's the story James Grady offered in his topical tale, except he messed up the timeline,

Gk1 said...

Slow Joe reminds me of the "Inspector Luger" character on Barney Miller. Laughably not p.c and horribly out of tune with the methods of modern police work. Just like Slow Joe not understanding what he can and cannot say in public. Comedy gold!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsDaAj8hh-A

Yancey Ward said...

I think there is little chance Biden is the nominee- he is basically trading on name recognition, and that advantage will have eroded completely by this coming Christmas.

If I had to guess right now who the nominee will be, and had to pick from the current field, I would have to go with Warren- she seems most willing to work hard for the nomination. But that isn't a strong guess- part of me still thinks Harris will get it off the ground at some point, I just don't feel as strong about that as I felt 2 months ago.

tcrosse said...

Biden as nominee will be a sacrifice bunt to advance runners for 2024.

wildswan said...

The Bernie Bros will not go gentle to that good night that everyone wants to say to them.

Narayanan said...

Except for Sir Geoffrey Nice QC the others are enjoying their preening wordplay.

Will these have any word at all to utter on the organ harvest?

Fen said...

"According to the math, no Democrat can win without 55% because of voter suppression and no Republican can with without 55% because of illegal voting."

That mathematician needs to get some sense. It's more likely the party that commits voter fraud will likewise falsely accuse the other party of voter suppression.

In fact, in sounds like that mathmatician is trying to excuse Democrat cheating by handwaving that "both sides are just as bad" so he can pose as a wise moderate above the petty fray.

I'm very tired of those kinds of people.

Narayanan said...

Dictionay says: all (adverb)

Narayanan said...

Looks like their argument for Biden : We need our own SOB to beat the Orange SOB!

Narayanan said...

But they dare not say it openly.

Even the Professora dances around it.

Drago said...

Fen: "It's more likely the party that commits voter fraud will likewise falsely accuse the other party of voter suppression."

Similar to LLR Admitted Smear Merchants calling Trump a liar.

Precisely similar.

Henry said...

Thanks, guys, for nailing your lines.

Fen said...

Dictionay says: all (adverb)

Did you know the FBI now employs a kind of "rhetoric forensics".

A computer calculates patterns and indicators like # of adverbs, adjectives, commas, etc. used. Even gauges style and tone. Spits out a "fingerprint" that is highly accurate.

So now I'm going to have to kidnap people to write my ransom notes.

Swede said...

Poor Joe just can't catch a break!

Why, it's like he was telling his old pal Grand Exalted Kleagle Robert Byrd "Bobby, I get so tired of shucking and jiving for these darkies, I mean, why bother? Who they gonna vote for, the Republican guy?".

Bobby's response? "Doo Dah".

Lurker21 said...

Politics were better when people had to admit that some people on their side were d*cks. Today everybody wants to believe that all the d*cks and *ssh*les are on the other side and those on one's own side are saints and angels, and it makes people insufferable. It was also better when senators and representatives voted in accord with what their constitunts wanted, rather than follow a rigid party line.

In a way, Biden was right and more than right, but he gave his opponents a great opportunity to pounce, and pounce they did.

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Tyrone Slothrop said...

When I read "hideous", I hear "hijjus", O Best Beloved.

Biff said...

1. Maybe it was just an affectation of the people I hung around with, but I recall the word "heinous" briefly becoming overused in casual speaking and writing in the late 80s. Maybe "hideous" is having a similar run.

2. After reading the snippets in the post, I'm left with the feeling that there are a lot of hideous writers and hideous people employed by the media.

sdharms said...

Ann, does your brain hurt after these pointless wanderings?

Nichevo said...

That mathematician needs to get some sense. It's more likely the party that commits voter fraud will likewise falsely accuse the other party of voter suppression.

In fact, in sounds like that mathmatician is trying to excuse Democrat cheating by handwaving that "both sides are just as bad" so he can pose as a wise moderate above the petty fray.

I'm very tired of those kinds of people.

Fan, the general case is, of course, your law. More specifically, it's the Projection Variation of the Big Lie by Hermann Goering: Accuse the other of that which you are guilty.

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