1. Posted on 29 April, 2013

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    Reblogged from alesario

    Geoff Nunberg on the evolution of the words "surreal" and "horrific":

“Surreal” was a bit of arty jargon until it too became popular around 1970 or so. That initially had a lot to do with the counterculture — the word shows up a lot more frequently in Rolling Stone than on CBS News. But the particular surreality of disaster scenes had another source. In her last book, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag noted how often the words “surreal” and “movie” were coupled in eyewitness accounts of the 9/11 attacks — the result, she said, after four decades of big-budget disaster films. Who needs “the irrational reality of a dream” when you have The Towering Inferno? 

image of Sontag by Peter Hujar, 1975 via alesario:

    Geoff Nunberg on the evolution of the words "surreal" and "horrific":

    “Surreal” was a bit of arty jargon until it too became popular around 1970 or so. That initially had a lot to do with the counterculture — the word shows up a lot more frequently in Rolling Stone than on CBS News. But the particular surreality of disaster scenes had another source. In her last book, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag noted how often the words “surreal” and “movie” were coupled in eyewitness accounts of the 9/11 attacks — the result, she said, after four decades of big-budget disaster films. Who needs “the irrational reality of a dream” when you have The Towering Inferno?

    image of Sontag by Peter Hujar, 1975 via alesario:

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Geoffrey Nunberg

    Susan Sontag

    Horrific

    Surreal

  1. It’s a GI’s word most often used for officers, and in particular, officers who are full of themselves. The first military leader to have been called with the A-word — both by his men and his superiors by the way — is George Patton, and that makes perfect sense, particularly if you read the unexpurgated Patton, not the Patton of the movie. … It’s a word that looks up. And the A-word always does. It’s a critique from below, from ground level, of somebody who’s gotten above himself.

    — Geoff Nunberg on the origins of the A-word among griping WWII officers

  2. The A-Word

    Ascent of the A-Word

    Geoffrey Nunberg

    WWII

    Fresh Air

  1. The feminists use it to replace ‘heel’ as a word for a guy who mistreats women, and to cover all forms of entitlement.

    — Linguist Geoff Nunberg on the A-word being adopted by feminists in the ’70s

  2. Ascent of the A-Word

    Geoffrey Nunberg

    Fresh Air

    A-word