Posts Tagged ‘words’

Saying Nothing: “Lethal Aid”

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Political leaders are perhaps experts not at making policies or making important decisions but in abusing language. President Obama’s white house spokesperson used the odd phrase “lethal aid” in a press briefing today. The entire quotation, “We’re not actively considering lethal aid” came in response to a question regarding the United States assistance to Ukraine. Certainly an odd phrase, “lethal aid”, but what does it mean?

What is “lethal aid”? Rearrange the words to read “aid that is lethal”. Of course the “lethal” nature of this aid means that it’s not lethal to it user. The lethal features of such aid stem from its application to another. In this case the lethality of the aid would only be experienced by Ukrainian protestors who would likely not consider it aid. This “lethal aid” term is a perfect creation of two opposed ideas. It is the paradox perfected as it works to both convey a gentle act of strength and the violent act of killing. It is both cold and warm, boiling and frozen.

The art of politics: saying something that says nothing.


This Hyphenated Age

June 17, 2012 1 comment

We exist in an era of hyper hyphenation. Just a dash of ink, a la (-), the hyphen may seem minor but with it we express the details of our complicated world. A hyphen creates simplicity where change compounds existence and new details make life murky. Make sense of a life where movement is constant: express the many worlds that define the constant traveler. Working to accurately express an identify becomes challenging when one’s life has fractured countless times. How we do communicate effectively? Risk failure and disregard these complications or sit comfortably in insult as we disregard critical experiences?

Our hyphen is our magic glue: linking the uncommon terms which modify us into unity. Perhaps a Welsh-American will find his rose-tinted glasses smudge free when considering his hyphens. Herein lies great clarity- a true tool for making sense in complication.

A society in which the hyphen exists is one in which combinations not only exist but prosper. Popular recognition of the hyphen is an act of respect, a reaction to the complicated nature of our world. Via the hyphen our language extends beyond biology to express change.

Combination breeds confusion. New breeds and forms demand clarification and distinction. Twenty one dollars or twenty-one? African-American or African American? Hyphens create sense, explain details and reveal by their very presence a linking and need to recognize distinction.

Through our movements in life we become new people who, though unchanged biologically, become new people with new perspectives and identities.  Given the choice between denial or expected absorption we honor change with the hyphen: though changed we retain features of our past and our present. We are complicated people constantly adjusting to the world. Language is our common tool for making and expressing who we are and via the hyphen we strive further to more accurate expression. If tools reflect who we are and what we need, the hyphen is revelation. Via the hyphen we express change and complication. One minor dash communicates not only where we are now but where we’ve been and where we plan to go.

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