Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's, like, plastic

It pervades every other sentence seemingly, this filler, "like" that one often hears a sentence such as "This is, like, totally a tree" when referring to living breathing tree. How does language develop or devolve so ludicrously?

I've been reading Plastic: the making of a synthetic century by Stephen Fenichell lately, and came across an interesting passage towards the end:

The most depressing thing about this brave new synthetic universe was that every thing in I seemed to set off by quotation marks: trees had become “trees” and leaves “leaves.” Nothing was what it was, but some spiritually impoverished simulacrum of what it was supposed to be. (276)

By this time in commerce, there had been decades of “like silk,” “like wood,” “like glass” It’s no wonder that “like” lost much of it’s real meaning, becoming a filler one’s vocabulary. Because plastic seemingly could be made in to anything, resemblance melted away and all we have is synthetics...

There are many great stories, particularly how the Leo Baekeland first made his forturne with inventing photo developing paper, sold to George Eastman. He then when on to develop bakelite, the first real ubiquitous plastic... from ash trays to telephones.

The chapters on Cellophane and Saran are interesting for any foodie who wonders why we eat such shitty processed food. It's all about the perception of freshness and sanitation.

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Anonymous Norman Teigen said...

Thanks for the link on folding fitted sheets. I had to wait until I was 62 years old to learn the trick from you.

Monday, 22 August, 2005  

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