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Saturday, May 18, 2013


Over the last few years, it seems like almost every time I see somebody I've not seen in awhile, like in Food Lion parking lot, one going in, one coming out, we exchange the customary greeting, "How you doin?" "Doin all right." "Really?" The first time or two somebody came back with, Really?, I thought it was funny. It's become such a pattern, I'm about to say it's in my appearance. I don't look in the mirror anymore, so I can't comment on how I look. Going by last time I had a look, it was frightful, like something people on LSD see when they look in a mirror that inspires them to put towels over all the mirrors in the house. I've gone through life totally uncertain about everything. In school I memorized for test passing, uncertain all the time, knowing what I was learning didn't solve any of my questions; though it did teach me how to articulate my questions.

Evidently my looks don't speak what I feel. I don't have aches or pains, no arthritis, no physical complaints. Heart issue, but it doesn't slow me down. No mental complaints. Slower to think now, but I prefer that, anyway for this time of the life. Names don't retain very well. I've seen this process so many times in others that seeing myself flow through it I see it natural as a baby learning to talk. Mind gets weaker. So what? American life doesn't require much of a vocabulary, so when I get down to cool, awesome, they, them, everybody, nobody, all, none, everything, nothing, totally, like, dude and a few others, I won't need any more words. And, of course, the cuss words that never go away. These simple words in varieties of combinations can be used to be understood by almost anybody in America. No problem. Maybe my writing will macerate to key words and phrases in different combinations to make paragraphs.

It's curious to see "the world as we know it" breaking down, coming to its end, which has already happened. It's doing the equivalent of tying up the loose ends now. At the same time the old civilization of the last 6 millennia is going away in a hurry right now, the new is coming in at the same time. We don't recognize much of the new yet, because it's new and we tend to miss much that is unfamiliar. We see the old going away, the familiar, and it looks like the social structure, the economy, the form of government, and that magically sweeping key word, everything, the world as we know it, is falling apart. My guess is that the new is coming in at the same rate that the old is going out, replacing the old ways with the new ways coming in. From the future looking back, the coming in of the new will be the perspective of the story, whereas from this side of the divide the fading away of the old is the perspective. We look back to when electricity came on, not to when whale oil lamp sales ended.

"No! Right! Dude! Like, everything! Awesome! Know what I mean?" This minimal and objectively meaningless riff in a given context can have meaning. It's the nature of slang that context understood determines the meaning of words spoken, like, cool. Oxymoron: cool parents. The hard part for mental activity with language dumbed down to slang is keeping up with the changing context. Sometimes context changes mid-sentence. It is a good exercise for brain activity trying to keep up with somebody who only talks in absolutes, abstractions and slang---keeps the mind searching, reminding self of a rule of thumb: it seldom means what the words put together in a sentence would mean using dictionary definitions. Same goes with spelling; phonetically close is good enough.

My dumbing down in advanced age seems to be coinciding with the rapid dumbing down happening now in the world of adults. If I can just remember that list of key words, I don't have to worry about losing touch by dementia. When I'm lying on a bed with my mouth hanging open watching daytime tv all day every day, and a visitor drops by, all I have to do for conversation is speak a random key-word phrase, "Like totally." "Yeah, Uncle TJ. Right. Cool." I could say, "Nobody all. Know what I mean?" "Awesome, Uncle TJ. Totally." No problem. In my time of mental atrophy, I'm fortunate that the collective mind of the tv-watching world around me is fading by atrophy too. Conversation with visitors need never be a problem. One says, Dude. The other says, Cool. One says, Totally. The other says, Awesome. One says, Like. The other says, No shit. One says, Know what I mean? The other says, Nothing everything. One says, I brought you headphones, Uncle TJ, you can hear some music. Brought THE CLASH ON BROADWAY, your box set, that old music you like. The other says, No! Right! Dude! Like totally!


1 comment:

  1. You are cracking me up, one who works with demented people every day. How great it is you have no physical pain. What a blessing...

    I am borrowing one of the quotes on here for my wall. The one about helping others. Love that!

    Katy T