May 24, 2004


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There are a lot of words that, once used, demand some kind of diluting agent if you want them to end up meaning what you think they mean. “Hip-hop” and “blog” are two such words. Say “hip-hop” and you push a hundred distantly related buttons in a million different brains: “That music you hear coming from those big vehicles,” “the golden age of the Roland 808,” “my favorite music ever,” “something my kids listen to which makes me vaguely nervous,” “that’s that shit!” “1987,” “2001,” “the commercial force,” “a way of thinking about samples,” etc. “Blog” carries a similarly huge and geometrically increasing load: “self-centered rambling,” “unedited,” “something about people in New York who do karaoke,” “something to do with the web,” “that site where you can see the Lego version of the Bible,” “New York narcissists,” “New York media clowns,” etc. If you use a word like “hip-hop” or “blog,” there’s a necessary moment where you have to contextualize the word, apologize for it, narrow down the conversation, exclude definitions you don’t like. (Doesn’t mean you have the last word on the word—it will do its work regardless, i.e. “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” And wait—do any words simply, to use Saussure's terms, denote? Does any word not connote?)

Posted by Sasha at May 24, 2004 02:17 PM | TrackBack