Saturday, April 2, 2011

Love and Other Oft' Times Meaninglessisms

Meaninglessness is a nearly meaningless word on its face of course.  It’s based on opinion, conjecture, a certain sanctimonious arrogance. Something that might be meaningless to you may mean everything to me and vice versa. But there are contexts in which the word meaningless has an abundance of meaning, and one of them is in people’s use of language. For this example I’ll need to use English, or at least the American version thereof; not because I consider it superior or more well suited to exemplifying a lack of meaning, but because I’m uneducated and can only count to ten in a dozen non English languages. While it might be entertaining to find meaninglessness in the connection between the English word “sex” and it’s Euro counterpart, the number six, it would be a very short paper indeed unless we explored the possibility (for instance) that the use of the number 69 as a naughty slogan had some secret relationship to a Norwegian girl named “Nio”  who’s schoolmates thought she was a bit too “Sexty” for her own good and thus wrote a folk song that talked of Sexty Nio which, because of its complex and unplayable melody became less a song and more an oral history, thus adding the “oral” dimension to the phrase’s conceptualization; and then once translated the longhand description of sexty girl Nio's oral proclivities turned into the shorthand number sixty nine and forever the two were conjoined.

Now granted, some scholars would argue that the joining of nine, six and sex is due only to the visual imagery conjured by the scribing of said numbers in sequence; that is: 6 and 9, as in 69. They would offer that the big round circles on each of the figures represent the rather large buttocks of the common American (or so they would since they need to use someone as examples and Americans are the biggest targets), and that the elongated portions of the numbers appear to be graceful necks, like those of Asians perhaps, or those African women who wear rings around their Adam’s apples. If they are right in their observations, say many who take issue with that line of reasoning, that would mean that the numbers 6 and 9 in combination represent fat people sniffing each other’s butts, thus leading one critic of the theory of sixty nine snifflism to cry out “I am not an animal! I don’t sniff butts!” As you know, the last portion of that angry diatribe was discarded by the press, and then its origin was forgotten until Michael Jackson, the American pop singer and child lover extraordinaire bought the bones of a man with a serious disease and when people speculated he had purchased them to chew on them he proclaimed “I am not an animal!”, or so say some reporters for the English newspaper “the Guardian.”

But wait! I’ve gone far afield! This paper was created as an expose of the misuse of language unto it’s meaninglessness, and though I may have already put that puppy to bed many times over I will step further yet into the realm of the human wasteland of worthless words and phrases. To whit…

“This will hurt me more than it will you.”

There are few more meaningless phrases than this. In anecdotal context, my behind stung “like a mother” (another meaningless phrase, but being somewhat colorful lessens its vapidness) when you spanked me, and while you might have been sad, you could turn that emotional crapola off like the tv set; I, on the other hand, couldn’t sit down for a week! Now explain to me how it hurt you worse!? Nuff said.

Another pile of meaninglessness is found wandering around live journal and its assorted socially networking brethren. It’s a well intentioned pile, and I’m only making example of the pile and not its pilers as I’ve been known to pile quite a pile myself at times so I can hardly stand in judgment of people who pile, but only the process of piling…. as exemplified here in a recreation of a commonly used preface to a writing group entry:

“The story that follows is really a piece of crap. I didn’t edit, it sucked so bad I couldn’t even proof it without getting vertigo and puking all over my history notes and my dog Fluffy. I wouldn’t have posted it here but you said I have to post or die and dying scares me cuz I have no idea what the dress code is in Hell. I know you won’t like it, it put my mother to sleep while I was reading it to her over the cell phone while she was driving her car and she crashed into a tree and died! But please don’t be mean. Thanks a lot!”

There is a possibility that the person that wrote the above meant exactly what they said. About the same chance as a frog becoming a prince; or of my writing a sentence without at least three punctuation symbols, intimating that I actually do know what I’m doing even though… I haven’t a clue.

It’s more likely that the author of said “story of crap” actually kinda likes the tale and hopes that no one will notice so long as they talk it down in no uncertain terms. The idea is that if they like it and someone slams it, they will have verification that they are actually the scourge of the earth and need to be removed from the planet for the good of all humankind, and Lord knows while we all feel that way much of the time, it’s oogy, and therefore, to be avoided. The same paragraph might be more truthful (and so, more meaningful) written thusly:

“I like this story or I wouldn’t post it duh! But I’m kinda afraid that I’m in my own little world and don’t really know it;  and what I like, no one else does. So I’m going to set the bar as low as I can so once you turn the page and begin to read you can only look upward. Then if you really like it you’ll hug me until I can’t breathe, and if you hate it, you can at least congratulate me on having the good sense to have known it sucked in advance, and because you can read between the lines that I’m an emotional cripple and you don’t want to risk having me blow my brains out if you try to be constructively critical in a negative fashion. Either way I rule!”

But let’s get to what can be the most powerful of all meaninglessnesses… the oft overused phrase “I love you.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the words “I love you” when they actually mean something, but in many, perhaps most cases what they mean is “I want you to be there for me on a moment’s notice, and I’d like to offer these meaningless words in trade”.

Now I can only deal within my own experience and I’d admit, my results are mixed. When I was young “I love you” might have meant I was about to be smothered in gramma’s breasts as she hugged me until I turned blue. Or, as in a previous illustration dealing with “hurt me worse”, “I love you” might mean I was about to get whacked upside the head and the whack-er wanted absolution for their deed before the whack-ing. Many times I found “I love you” to mean “you are the last person on earth I can trust, please don’t leave me”; an interpretation I was well able to parlay into a lifetime of martyrdom.

“I love you” might mean “thanks for the really expensive present” or “C’mere, I need an orgasm” or even “I’m about to ask you a really big favor so be aware I know how to use guilt to my advantage.”

Again, scholars might argue that having a meaning other than the actual meaning of the words in their contextual combination, is not at all “meaningless”, but only “meaningful in a special, secret way”. But those that love language as I do know, “I love you” means “sure honey, I’d be happy to get you a beer, all you have to do is ask.” So if the intent behind the phrase isn’t backed up by a trip to the fridge, “to love” is meaningless, much like the phrase, “let me check my schedule and I’ll get back to ya.”

Love’s Behest

It's less my ears that know the truth,
as words of whispered love you've spent;
Sincere in every fashion but the one that moves an inch
You've sung me other's lyric
as if written at your love's behest
but asked to prove one stanza, not a note will leave your clinch

It's less my eyes that spot your mood,
(indifference has no special look;
you're worthy as an actor, may an Oscar find your hand)
I note the signs of boredom
like a written wall between our lives
Our kingdom and its castle, made of quickly drying sand

It's more my heart that has the skill
to read between each scribbled line
It tells me we've but moments left, and warns me not to cry
It's I who leaves this sinking ship
that you might steer the deep alone
I'll not be turned to willing ghost, before your vacant eyes


  1. Beautiful poem.

    I had to read the prose several times, mind ;)

  2. And it still doesn't make sense I'd wager lol