Thursday, September 24, 2009
One of the favorite figures of speech among bloggers and commenters is that of "starting," as in: "I'm starting to think that Glenn Beck is Crazeee."
It's very widely used, has been for many years, and is typically unconsciously applied as an extraneous qualifier. By the time one states one's opinion of, say, Glenn Beck's sanity, one is not "starting" anything; one is well down the road, as it were. As a generalized qualifier, however, "starting" allows the writer to avoid making a firm commitment to his or her statement, to back away if circumstances warrant, or to express a change of mind or heart.
By "starting to think" something or other, one does not commit to actually thinking thus and so. Ergo, someone who is "starting to think" that Glenn Beck is Crazee isn't quite sure he is, and so, for the time being, is reserving judgement.
On something that's obvious.
Because "starting" is used so widely and so often on the Left blogosphere, one might think that leftish bloggers are always "starting" to do or believe or think or whatever, and never-ever actually commit to doing, believing or thinking anything.
Everything is always at the "start" point. Never midway. And certainly never concluded.
This implies a constant blogospheric "now", much like the news media's fiction of "new", but it also implies that there is never anything but the "now" in the sense of the very beginning of something, and everything is sui generis. There is no history, there is no learning curve, there is no evolution, there is no future, either. Because everything is always just "starting."
Typically when I run into the "starting" locution, I let it go, but sometimes it is so egregious ("Neo-cons are starting to piss me off.") I will comment on/lambaste whoever is making such a silly statement. The time to "start" is long past. We should be at the end game now, not "starting" anything.
It's tied, I think, to the mythology of how very New and very Now the blogosphere is. The blogosphere itself is just "starting", you see, so the idea of actions and beliefs just "starting" as well is natural. The problem is that the blogosphere and its progenators have been around for quite a while now. It isn't brand new. It's got some wear and tear on it and the chrome is a little pitted and dingy. But if everything continues to be just "starting", bloggers don't have to worry about history or necessarily about the future, especially if you can "start" something but then back away or back out or return to the starting point.
It's a minor bête noire of mine, like Digby's "Village" locution that's really referring to a Palace and she knows it, but when it comes to the so-called Progressive blogosphere, the notion that it will take a long time -- decades, generations, centuries -- to "turn this country around," and we're just "starting" is very strong, and in my view, self-defeating.
At some point, there's got to be actual progress... ya know?