Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Revenge of the word nerds

Cliches grow by mindless repetition. My nomination for this year's (perhaps this decade's) most mindless and most repetitive new cliche is iconic. Now that I've brought it up, your feeble defence mechanisms will avail you nothing. You will, as I do, hear and see this foolish word repeated endlessly. I include see as a concession that it sometimes shows up in print media, although it is a specialty of the electronic media.

I delved into the etymology and, sure enough, it refers back to icons: those images especially found in eastern christianity. They were noted for--even prized for--their mindless repetition of themes that were centuries old. They are the distinctive product of an art form that valued only repetition and had no use for originality.

Today's media usage seems to suggest that the iconic is representative, or even special. But I fear the original definition is far more accurate. That which is iconic has all the characteristics of an icon: stilted, unimaginative, repetitive, representational, and in no sense innovative or original. I dislike cliche but I love unintentional irony.

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