Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Masha Gessen, New York Review of Books: When something cannot be described, it does not become a fact of shared reality. Hundreds of millions of Soviet citizens had an experience of the thing that could not be described, but I would argue that they did not share that experience, because they had no language for doing so. ... [President] Trump has a talent for using words in ways that make them mean nothing. Everyone is great and everything is tremendous. Any word can be given or taken away. NATO can be "obsolete" and then "no longer obsolete" -- this challenges not only any shared understanding of the word "obsolete" but our shared experience of linear time. And then there is Trump's ability to take words and throw them into a pile that means nothing.

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Trump's word-piles fill public space with static. This is like having the air we breathe replaced with carbon monoxide. It is deadly. This space that he is polluting is the space of our shared reality. This is what language is for: to enable you to name "secateurs" [garden shears], buy them, and use them. To make it possible for a surgeon to name "scalpel" and have it placed in her open palm. To make sure that a mother can understand the story her child tells her when she comes home from school, or a judge can evaluate a case being made. None of this is possible when words mean nothing ...

There will come a time, and it may not be all that soon, I'm afraid, when we have to think about recovering from the damage done by the current era of American politics. I fear that there will come a time when we, individually or in groups, discard certain words because they have been robbed of their ability to mean something. I can give up "tremendous." But it's our job to make sure that we enter the post-Trump future with other words that still have meaning: "law," "freedom," "truth," "power," "responsibility," "life," "death," "fifty-nine," "president," "presidential," "unprecedented," "lie," "fact," "war," "peace," "democracy," "justice," "love," "secateurs."

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Gessen, appropriately, calls attention to these remarks by Confucius:

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

#1 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-15 08:50 AM | Reply

Last night I had an interesting dream-- maybe someone can take a crack at interpreting it--

I was with a bunch of well-dressed people inside a medium-sized conference room inside a large building, presumably the Pentagon. Apparently Trump was in the conference room although I could not see him through the large crowd-- presumably supporters of his-- assembled.

I could suddenly discern his voice. He asked for a fully loaded Gatling Gun from the late 19th century (apparently from some museum or exhibit down the hall) to be wheeled into the room. The gun was soon wheeled in by two men in military uniform. An old gentleman next to me asked me why it was brought into the room. I told him I didn't know but I thought that perhaps Trump was going to get behind it and shoot everyone, so both of us decided to leave the room and go down the hallway for a bit. After walking down the hallway for a few hundred feet I heard a large number of gunshots. I turned back. The hallway was thick with white smoke as I returned to the room. When I got there, the whole room was filled with the same people, laughing and enjoying hors d'oeuvres but was completely engulfed in white plaster dust. In the corner of the room the still-smoking Gatling gun sat in front of a gaping hole in the wall. I asked one of the military men present what had happened and he explained that Trump wanted to try out the gun and unloaded the magazine into a target drawn on the wall, and then reloaded and let everyone in the room have a chance to do the same thing.

Hearing this I became extremely upset and remarked, "Doesn't Trump know that all this plaster dust floating in the air will be inhaled and give everyone cancer? This building is very old and it quite likely has asbestos in the plaster!"

I covered my mouth, quickly exited the room, found a door, went outside and sucked in fresh air. I looked up to the sky and the sun was blinding bright and was spinning like a giant pinwheel.

#2 | Posted by pumpkinhead at 2017-05-15 10:15 AM | Reply

Someone forgot to water the pumpkin.

#3 | Posted by Crassus at 2017-05-15 10:20 AM | Reply

#2

Well, you've clearly blown my Sarah Palin dream - modesty and a sense of decorum preclude me revealing the sordid details - all to hell.

#4 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-15 10:25 AM | Reply

Gessen's' observations on the disturbing business of robbing of language of meanings, based on experiences in her native Russia, are particularly insightful.

#5 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-15 10:27 AM | Reply

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible."

#6 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-15 10:30 AM | Reply

"fifty-nine"

Isn't that the number of states that Obama had visited?

But I digress. What I really want to know is where this clown was when other important words were being tossed around and redefined over the last decade? Words like:

"transparent"
"surveillance"
"illegal"
"alien"
"immigrant"
"keep"
"scandal"
"corruption"

#7 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-05-15 10:43 AM | Reply

He was a big critic of Obama.

Check out Frum's background: en.m.wikipedia.org

#8 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-15 10:52 AM | Reply

speaking of stuff being tossed around.

what ever happened to OBAMA taking our Guns and Invading Texas?

#9 | Posted by ChiefTutMoses at 2017-05-15 10:55 AM | Reply

"What I really want to know is where this clown was when other important words were being tossed around and redefined over the last decade"

"transparent"
"surveillance"
"illegal"
"alien"
"immigrant"
"keep"
"scandal"
"corruption"

Ok, what did Alex Jones say about the above?

#10 | Posted by ChiefTutMoses at 2017-05-15 11:02 AM | Reply

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#10 I don't watch him. I get my entire daily dose of news from MSNBC and "the two Drudge's". You should try my method of digesting media reporting some time. It's called "using your brain".

#11 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-05-15 11:17 AM | Reply

Gessen's' observations on the disturbing business of robbing of language of meanings, based on experiences in her native Russia, are particularly insightful.
#5 | POSTED BY DOC_SARVIS

I agree, I notice a trend where a word is used, say "Alien" and it becomes a negative connotation, so the Leftist change the word to use to say "undocumented" then that becomes negative so now they now use the word "immigrant".

The Obama conniptions and contortions to avoid saying "Radical Islamic terrorism" was textbook.

Words/phrases are conflated and put in silos for political purposes, losing meaning in hope of redirecting the public. Rendering differentiation of the true meaning impossible for all those that don't keep up with the latest political newspeak of the day.

I get my entire daily dose of news from MSNBC and "the two Drudge's". ~ Mustang

It get mine from Twitter. Try making a list, and follow all your newstypes, talking heads, authors, and political types from both sides of the aisle. Its miles ahead of either of the Drudges, never mind MSNBC. Whenever someone publishes and article, the author typically tweets a link in a tweet with a title they think it should be called (editors change it)

Twitter is like crack for political/news discussions.

#12 | Posted by AndreaMackris at 2017-05-15 11:41 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Speaking of "using your brain". Where is the Whitey Tap we heard so much about?
And when can we expect Trump to release his tape if of Comey?

#13 | Posted by ChiefTutMoses at 2017-05-15 11:43 AM | Reply

#13 Are you having a stroke?

#14 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-05-15 11:47 AM | Reply

Remember when OBAMA was going to institute sharia law! Where was you brain then?

#15 | Posted by ChiefTutMoses at 2017-05-15 11:55 AM | Reply

I agree, I notice a trend where a word is used, say "Alien" and it becomes a negative connotation, so the Leftist change the word to use to say "undocumented" then that becomes negative so now they now use the word "immigrant".

Or how anti-abortion folks want to be called pro-life. Both sides try to control the debate on any topic, and language usage is a big part of that strategy.

#16 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-05-15 12:00 PM | Reply

Frank Luntz may well be The Godfather for giving perceived (albeit wildly skewed) meaning to meaningless statements, while robbing meaningful statements of real meaning. A mendacious Trump and a ridiculous Conway are the natural byproducts of the assault on language Luntz represents.. "Alternative facts" indeed.

#17 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-15 12:55 PM | Reply

"Make"
"America"
"Great"
"Again"

#18 | Posted by TheTom at 2017-05-15 01:46 PM | Reply

"Drain"
"The"
"Swamp"
"!"

#19 | Posted by Doc_Sarvis at 2017-05-16 08:07 AM | Reply

"I get my entire daily dose of news from MSNBC and "the two Drudge's"."

So you get your news from a right wing web site and then come here with talking points to make arguments you don't really even understand. YOu probably are using "your brain," but it doesn't say much for that particular organ.

#20 | Posted by danni at 2017-05-16 12:33 PM | Reply

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