At the beginning of his very first podcast new podcaster John Lurie talks about the word podcast — a portmanteau of pod (as in Apple’s iPod) and broadcast.
“So here I am,” Lurie says, “I’m not on the radio. I’m not on the TV. I’m on a podcast. Which I think is a terrible word. Podcast. PAHD-cast. And even if I quit right now and walk out of this room, I will have been a PAHD-caster. My record will say…I have been a PAHD-caster. There’s got to be a better word. ”
Of course he’s right. I might say the same of blogger-ing (blogging, I know). “So here I am. I’m not in a magazine. I’m not in an online publication. Even if I quit right now and walk out of this garret, I will have been a BLAH-ger. My record will say…I have been a blogger.”
Technological advances have added a lot of words to English (and all languages), and most of these have a mechanical, automotive quality. At least that’s how I hear them.
Blogger, podcaster, carburetor.
Tweep, crowdsource, radiator
I’m leasing a 2015 Hyundai Phablet.
There have got to be better words.
While searching for something else I stumbled upon an essay* Thomas Merton wrote in 1968, and this quote. It still applies today – only a thousandfold:
“Modern literature is by and large a literature of alienation, not only because we are painfully living through the collapse of a culture but because today we have more culture and more civilization than we know what to do with. There are not only the simple, beautiful, wild, honest ceremonial masks once affected but the Kwakiutl Indians…but today we smother under an overproduction of masks and myths and personae. We all have to try to be fifty different people. We all can refuse some of the more absurd and unacceptable roles, but not many can refuse as much as they would like to, and no one can refuse them all.”
Later on Merton states:
“The culture built on death: the convergence of affluence and death wish, the root of our tragedy.”
*The title of the essay is “Why alienation is for everybody.”
I’m writing something (to be published here shortly) and it brought to mind these words from Richard Rodriquez. I remember reading them in Harper’s Magazine, and telling a friend that they could stand as the Quote of the Decade (if there were such a thing) for the Aughts:
“So what is lost? Only bricks and mortar. (The contemptuous reply.) Cities are bricks and mortar. Cities are bricks and mortar and bodies…Something funny I have noticed, perhaps you have noticed it, too. You know what futurists and online-ists and cut-out-the-middle-man-ists and Davos-ists and deconstructionists of every stripe want for themselves? They want exactly what they tell you you no longer need, you pathetic, overweight, disembodied Kindle reader. They want white linen tablecloths on trestle tables in the middle of vineyards on soft blowy afternoons. (You can click your bottle of wine online. Cheaper.) They want to go shopping on Saturday afternoons on the Avenue Victor Hugo; they want the pages of their New York Times all kind of greasy from croissant crumbs and butter at a cafe table in Aspen; they want to see their names in hard copy in the ‘New Establishment’ issue of Vanity Fair; they want a nineteenth-century bookshop; they want to see the plays in London; they want to float down the Nile in a felucca; they want five-star bricks and mortar and do not disturb signs and views of the park. And in order to reserve these things for themselves they will plug up your eyes and your ears and your mouth, and if they figure out a way to pump episodes of The Simpsons through the darkening corridors of your brain as you expire (add to shopping cart), they will do it.”
On days like this I’ll recall Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer:
“Whenever I feel bad, I go to the library and read controversial periodicals. Though I do not know whether I am a liberal or a conservative, I am nevertheless enlivened by the hatred which one bears the other. In fact, this hatred strikes me as one of the few signs of life remaining in the world. This is another thing about the world which is upsidedown: all the friendly and likable people seem dead to me; only the haters seem alive.
“Down I plunk myself with a liberal weekly at one of the massive tables, read it from cover to cover, nodding to myself whenever the writer scores a point. Damn right, old son, I say, jerking my chair in approval. Pour it on them. Then up and over to the rack for a conservative monthly and down in a fresh cool chair to join the counterattack. Oh ho, say I, and hold fast to the chair arm: that one did it: eviscerated! And then out and away into the sunlight, my neck prickling with satisfaction.”