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Secure the Climate or Mean Something

December 4, 2006

Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? Job 12:11

Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Job 38:2

I think it is important to think about words, because they are God’s creation by which he reveals himself to us. I love words and I really enjoy oxymorons. Oxymorons portray paradox, and I enjoy paradoxes. Oxymorons can be meaningful for their irony; they can be humorous, or stupidly senseless. I generally prefer the first two categories.

For whatever reason, some of us generate oxymorons on contact with the atmosphere: perceptions of paradox just always seem to compass our thoughts. I’ve used a few in my posts recently: “random stratagems,” “mindless intrigue,” which is my husband’s contribution; “gratuitous fidelity,” &c.

Sometimes word play morphs into literature, or government policy. One presidential hopeful, for instance, has introduced a bizarre theme in his proposed candidacy: “climate security.” Ye gods, stand fast, secure the climate!

This politician either believes in or is making use of others’ beliefs in, “global warming.” Jerusalem is still called the “Holy City,” too. And consider: “gay marriage” and “artificial intelligence.” The first is an oxymoron; the second is illogical blather. But “artificial intelligence” has meaning in circles in which it is discussed. We all know what it means, but it doesn’t really mean anything. If intelligence isn’t real, how can it be intelligence? An artificial flavor or flower is like a real flavor or flower. There is a resemblance. But what can be like intelligence? It requires real intelligence to produce artificial intelligence. Vanilla doesn’t produce artificial vanilla. What about “institutional intelligence?” Nothing will ever produce that.

An old friend of mine wrote a novel in which meaningful ironies, often expressed as oxymorons, dominated his literary landscape. He produced a series of word pictures that expressed the distorted language (would “meaningless language” be an oxymoron?) that passes as policy in various nations, and how sinister this pattern really is. This writer had a theme of life that “anything you can imagine is probably true.” To some extent, he was right. Everything he imagined and wrote in his novel was probably true. His novel prompted a house call from some sub-CIA agency functionary. He got mad and moved to France. Oxymorons have consequences.

It would be futile to replay the lexicon of oxymorons people swallow every day in what passes for news, weather, politics, culture, marketing, and art. My point is that we need to regain consciousness and pay attention to the way words are strung together and determine whether they make sense before acknowledging them as ideas. I hope you think “random stratagems” is funny and ironic and very Mrs. B.

I happen to think “climate security” is moronic even though it is meant to convey a serious idea. Actually, I find it densely diaphanous.

8 comments:

HZ said…
We loved ‘random stratagems’.Zack likes the idea of securing the climate. He thinks it’s brilliant. He thinks it has something to do with barking at bugs.

7:30 AM  
Mrs. B said…
I suspect Zack is on to something. With his oracular barking capabilities, he should apply for a situation as a fellow in a think tank.
7:56 AM  
Ruben said…
C.S. Lewis met a man who was gifted at this.
“I agree with So-and-So as far as he goes, but he goes a great deal too far.”
I would tell you another oxymoron, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be a story around it.
So I shall content myself with congratulating you on a lucidly opaque post.
9:20 AM  
Mrs. B said…
Ruben, are you being narrowly oblique?
9:27 AM  
Mrs. B said…
Heidi! I just realized what you meant. I’m rapidly slowing down. Zack’s barking at bugs: He should hire out as a wiretap consultant. I wouldn’t recommend lying on his resume, but it might be readily conjectured that he lost his leg as a sapper.
9:35 AM  
Victorbravo said…
I agree that the security of the climate, with all its coalescing vapors and derivative international carbon-credit-trading proposals, is wonderfully diaphanous and dense all at once.
3:04 PM  
Heidi said…
This post has been removed by the author.
8:22 PM  
Ruben said…
Actually, I was being amply straitened as I typed that, which accounts for the lofty humility of the post.
8:23 PM  
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