Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wordsmith Rubbish

The nearby town of Hingham, Massachusetts has signs up for its "transfer station". Having mostly lived in curbside-pickup cities my whole life, I didn't realize that a transfer station actually referred to the DUMP.

I must have driven by the sign for it two dozen times before I realized what the heck a transfer station was. I feel like making my own "DUMP" sign and plastering it over the misnomer. Allow me to scaffold from this little incident to the philosophical. Read what Will Durant said about Confucious:

"When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not, to admit the fact – this is knowledge." Obscurity of thought and inaccuracy of speech seemed to him national calamities. If a prince who was not in actual fact and power a prince should cease to be called a prince, if a father who was not a fatherly father should cease to be called a father, if an unfilial son should cease to be called a son – then men should be stirred to reform abuses too often covered up with words.

So, getting back to the DUMP. I thought to myself, what is it? Do the lunatics in Hingham (and Seattle, Goffstown, etc.) think their trash doesn't stink? Why are they vainly trying to protect the image of nearby real estate? I could smell it in the summer.

Of course I had to google "transfer station". Apparently the label is arguably apropos because the trash isn't buried there. It's just disaggregated and shipped off elsewhere.

Guess what, I DON'T CARE. Every person in the town calls it a "DUMP". And whether they transfer my rubbish or not, I, along with everyone else, still DUMP our sh*t there.

Confucious would probably go insane he he had to live in present day America with all of our misnomers.

Here's a lengthy, but worthy, essay on today's chief obfuscators - Nostalgia Of The Wordsmith Intellectuals. Don't quit on it; it's starts out slow but gets better.

1 comment:

Taylor Conant said...

Calling a dump a transfer station takes care of NIMBY in one fell swoop.

"Say, would you rather live by a transfer station or a dump?"
"Transfer station."
"Transfer station it is, then!"

You know who tackles this problem philosophically quite lucidly? Ayn Rand, in "Atlas Shrugged." Another good tackler of this problem is Mr. Orwell in 1984. The point of both of these writers is that it is often politicians and bureaucrats who prove most crafty with these "misnomers" as you politely refer to them, and that they are so crafty because they have to. If they spoke honestly, with honest language, about what they do and who they point guns at, people would be outraged and call for their heads.