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March 15th, 2011 / 10:11 am
Craft Notes

Three Types of Language: (Slogan, Fact and Thought Language)

There seems to be three types of language or ways of writing or speaking: slogan, factual and thoughtful.

Slogan: slogan language when a person speaks in cliches or ritualistic statements or as we say today, “talking points.” Cliché language can be found in romance or fantasy writing, and in most movies. We all know what cliches are, having scenes when two lovers are standing in the rain, having a life-affirming ending when the dying dad tells his kids that he loves them, the person who was evil the whole story breaks down and becomes a good person. There are a lot of abstract lines about ‘hearts’ and ‘souls.’

Heidegger called this ‘idle talk.’ Heidegger describes idle talk as gossip or that the talk has no Being, the Being of the talk is already disclosed. Which means what is said, does not matter and everyone knows it. And this essence of it not mattering makes people feel safe and secure.

I would say that slogan language/idle talk is talk is several things: first for the person who uses slogan language it is safe because they are speaking in commonly accepted parts of speech, that they assume are safe and normal. Second it makes the speaker feels like they are performing a ritual, that they are part of the society at large when they say these commonly used sentences. Third slogan speech is commonly connected with groups like political parties or social groups. The republican party currently has its phrase, “budget cuts.” A liberal might say, “Homosexuals have the right to marry.” A vegan might say, “Killing animals is wrong.” Christians will say, “God says abortion is wrong.” These are common slogans or talking points that these groups have. A follower of these groups carry these slogans like objects one would carry in their bookbag, when it is time, they take out the slogan and put it on the table for everyone to look it and say, “This slogan is me.”

Fact: Facts involve the stubborn. Fact language commonly involves science or statistical data. The data states this, which implies this. This is the difference between Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow. Bill O’Reilly speaks in talking points and slogans all night. He sticks to the ritualistic statements. While Rachel Maddow puts up one piece of data after another and then makes claims she believes are true concerning that data.

Or the difference between Kant and a Christian theologian. Kant spoke in facts, The Categorical Imperative, the Kingdom of Ends, were facts to Kant. He laid down system that he assumed to be true. He didn’t write in common cliches or talking points. He wrote original thoughts he assumed to be true but gave you little room to work out your own thoughts.

Writers like Updike, Roth and Stephen King could be considered factual writers. Their writing is straight, not full of cliches and idle talk. But commonly it just takes data and writes out the data.

Thought: Thought writing is like Nietzsche, Nietzsche never wrote in cliches but at the same time he never concluded with statements of truth. He never resolved anything. Norman Mailer in “The Armies of the Night” and “Miami and the Siege of Chicago” wrote in thoughts. Mailer doesn’t concern himself with concluding statements, making clear and precise verdicts on the data. He has the experience and records the thoughts he had during this experience. Mailer doesn’t care if his thoughts might be a little racist or a little anti-feminist at times. Mailer knows that everyone has prejudices and it is important to record these prejudices for the sake of posterity.

Thought language is different mainly in the way that it involves ‘thinking.’ Rachel Maddow uses a lot of data and shows her point, but she never ‘thinks’ about the data. She has her liberal viewpoint and sticks to it because she wants democrats to win more seats in the next election. She never thinks about high debt and its future implications, only that the republicans are wrong on how to fix it.

Thought language is not commonly used because it requires being somewhat well-read, requires the person to think about what data/stimuli they are receiving, that you aren’t afraid of having your opinion changed, a certain amount of moral relativism and it requires that you don’t respond quickly. This can be seen with Wittgenstein, a common complaint of Wittgenstein is that he changed his views. Wittgenstein didn’t change his views because he didn’t have views, he had thoughts. Wittgenstein just thought about things, one day he thought this thought and another day he thought another thought. He wrote both of them because he liked to write down his thoughts. If Wittgenstein was a vampire and lived 500 years he would have written twenty more books that contradicted his earlier books because he wasn’t concerned with a resolution, he was concerned with the thinking.

What I mean by not responding quickly, is that when people argue, it is respected by most people that the people respond quickly to the points. But the only way to respond quickly in conversation is if you respond with slogans, if you are smarter I guess you could respond with slogans you’ve made up.

But a thoughtful person, will say, “I need to think about this. What book did you get from? I’ll read up on this.” Then they go and read about it and think about it and respond slowly. This is not respectable.

Thought language in literature mainly concerns experience, Kerouac, Proust, Pessoa, Yates, and Rhys all have this experience based language. The main character has experiences and as they experience things they record their thoughts and feelings in an intimate way.

No one really talks about ‘experience’ anymore. No one says, “I want to experience the Grand Canyon.” “I want to experience what it would be like to have this job.” “I want to experience being in love.” “I want to experience the taste of organic fruit.” “I want the experience of driving across America” “I want the experience of reading Dostoevsky.” “I need to experience life.”

Instead people are like, “I want to buy a new flat screen television.” “I need to get married before I’m 30.” “I want to own those American Apparel pants.” “I want to go to Europe.” “I want a Masters Degree because getting a Masters Degree will make me more marketable in the workplace.” “I want to read Dostoevsky.” “I need to make sure I have a good job and keep my things in order.”

It should be noted that, all three of these languages shouldn’t be put into the order of best to worst. All three have good things about them and we all use them at different times of the day. We all use cliches, have idle conversations, hopefully all use data based language, and sometimes we decide to think about things.

Slogan language is good because it keeps society together at a large, it creates a common language that we can all understand and creates unity amongst the populace. But sometimes slogan language can turn into political nonsense involving racist and sexist overtones.

Data language is good but it doesn’t involve thought, most of the times specific data is picked out to prove one’s prejudice.

Thought language can turn into serious problems, Nietzsche’s writing helped with Nazism.

But the point of writing this is to explain the writing of Muumuu House writers or many writers that are appearing on the Internet under the age of 30.

To me the writing of Sam Pink, Brandon Scott Gorrell or Ana Carrete who isn’t a Muumuu House writer, seems to be about experience. There is a love for life, an exuberance in them which comes out in their writing. A combination of Saint Augustine and Nietzsche, that thought pattern that says that life is really important and should be experienced and thought about.

On Jack Kerouac’s grave it says, “He honored life.” What it means to ‘honor life’ is that you live fully, and experience things fully. You don’t just sit around making judgments and planning on how to get the next thing you want.

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Noah Cicero has several books published, The Human War, The Insurgent and recently released Best Behavior. His first book The Human War has been in a feature length by Sangha films. He has been published in many locations on the web and in print. He lives in Youngstown, Oh and is currently finishing a degree in Political Science at YSU. And for some strange reason he is acting in a film production of Tao Lin’s Shoplifting at American Apparel also being created by Sanga films.