|Fig. 1 "Your mother wears combat |
At least one observer indicates that luxury is cheaper than necessity in some scenarios:
Sociologist Joseph Cohen of Queens University is fond of saying that “America is a place where luxuries are cheap and necessities costly.”(The stuff we need ... and the other stuff). Down through time clothing and even fruit have been metaphors for behavior (e.g. "wolf in sheep's clothing" and "by their fruits shall ye know them").
A recent chart from economist Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, illustrates this well. Since 1996, the prices of food and housing have increased by close to 60 percent, faster than the pace of inflation. Costs of health care and child care have more than doubled. The prices of textbooks and higher education nearly tripled.
In the case of higher education, the nation’s massive student loan industry bears much of the upfront burden of rising prices. To the typical 18-year-old, a $120,000 tuition bill may seem like an abstraction when you don’t have to start paying it off until your mid-20s or later. As a result, the nation’s college students and graduates now collectively owe upward of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
Clothing still is metaphorical, in the sense and to the extent that behavior defines us:
Today, we design and define ourselves through clothing more than through any other device. Clothing originally evolved to provide protection and warmth. For centuries, it has also reflected gender, age, cultural identity, and class differences—visually distinguishing the ruling, powerful, and wealthy from everyone else. In the contemporary world of customization, mass production, and globalization—with information disseminated at a rate never before experienced— we can choose from myriad styles and types of clothing to alter how we are perceived and identified.(Dress Codes: Clothing as Metaphor, PDF; in other words: Dress Codes: Clothing as Metaphor). On another hand, "clothes don't make the man" and "you can't tell a book by its cover" allege that there are holes in our ability to discern the depths when we merely observing the shallows.
Since the 1990s, a growing number of international artists have been using apparel as a metaphor for shared, as well as personal, concerns.
Moving along, one can ask or wonder: "if all of this applies to groups, nations, organizations, or cultures, what would that look like?"
The graphic in Fig. 1 indicates that some clothing is sufficiently revealing to in fact "tell the book by its cover," or "know the man by his clothing," at least in the sense of groups within a society (e.g. "hawks" vs. "doves").
So, you may be wondering what this has to do with "language" being as much of a revelatory indicator as "clothing" can be.
Can language reveal aspects of "the book" or of "the man" who is "wearing" that language?
Ok, fair enough ... as a simple exercise let's investigate cultures that use the word "slay".
But first let's investigate the word's traditional meaning:
slay [sley]; verb (used with object), slew, slain, slaying.(Dictionary). Synonyms usually help with the investigation into the meaning of a word:
1. to kill by violence.
2. to destroy; extinguish.
Synonyms for slay: kill, assassinate, butcher, destroy, dispatch, execute, exterminate, massacre, murder, slaughter, annihilate, do, down, eliminate, erase, finish, hit, liquidate, neutralize, snuff, waste, cut off, do away with, do in, knock off, put away, rub out ...(Thesaurus). So, what do we make of it when this word, which describes the most heinous of activity, is used casually by groups within a culture, or even when it is used by whole cultures?
First notice this:
Did you watch the Billboard Music Awards last night and follow along on Twitter or Facebook? Or maybe you skipped it and are just catching up on all of the headlines…(CBS Local News, emphasis added). The commentator was not complaining that the use of the word "slay" in that context represents a watering down of the worst of human behavior (which is human crime).
One thing is for sure, there were a lot of females “slaying” last night.
I am over it with this word, especially since it’s now used to describe outfits or performances that are only moderately good. It’s completely lost it’s meaning because it’s been so over used!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “slay” supposed to be reserved for something that is out of this world, over the top, spectacular, cream of the crop, best of the best, most amazing ever, killed it, nailed it, WOW, and holy sh*t that was amazing? Because if you followed Twitter last night, just about every performance was the best thing ever of all time.. Even the ones that were just OK.
Instead, the commentator was complaining that "slay" was being used to describe only mediocre performances (the commentator's argument was that "slay" should be reserved for the best human performances).
Perhaps that commentator was a graduate of some astute institutions within our slaying culture (Is War An Art or Is War A Disease?, 2) ?
Or, perhaps just a commentator who wakes up to the lyrics of a "killer" song:
You killed it with I love you
And you killed it, you killed it
You killed it with I love you
And you killed with I love you
What am I supposed to say back to you?
You killed it with I love you
(U Killed It). The message subtly broadcast by those who create travesties of art, subversions of language, who extinguish reason, and/or who disable socially mature cultures, is the message that barbaric linguistic behavior is nothing more than fancy clothing.
And this is being done against the backdrop of our culture.
A culture which has been counseled from the beginning to avoid this state of mind, or maybe better said as this mind of state:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied: and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Those truths are well established.(The Greatest Source Of Power Toxins?). The warmonger depicted in Fig. 1 was telling the truth when it said to the president: "it's us or them."
It is getting to be all "US" without "THEM," because "US" is slaying, "US" is killing "THEM" softly with those "US" words.
Anyway, getting back to the words that work, listen to a former Secretary of the Treasury talk with sober words about work clothing:
On the basis of these factors, I expect that more than one-third of all men between 25 and 54 will be out work at mid-century. Very likely more than half of men will experience a year of non-work at least one year out of every five. This would be in the range of the rate of non-work for high school drop-outs and exceeds the rate of non-work for African Americans today.(A disaster is looming for American men). The bill for wising "US" up will slay "THEM" who are "killing it" :
Will we be able to support these people and a growing retired share of the population? What will this mean for the American family? For prevailing ethics of self-reliance? For alienation and support for toxic populism? These are vital questions. Even more vital is the question of what is to be done.
These questions should preoccupy social science researchers. They are vital to our future.
The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?(The Atlantic). What the cavalier attitude about barbarianism subconsciously encourages is the spread of a social barbarianism which will slay our society by killing its middle class.
Really Roberta, softly?