Also in our new roundup: David Lynch’s meditation-inspired jewelry, and Margaret Atwood’s dialogue with Martians. Welcome to the Daily Blunt!
As year-end lists and titles are passed around, we are flush with reminders of 2017’s many ups and downs. For example, Dictionary.com has announced that its word of the year is “complicit,” which saw a steep rise in user searches following Ivanka Trump’s admission in April that she didn’t know the meaning of the word, personally defining it as “wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact.” Other contenders included “totality” (because of the eclipse, natch) and “intersex.” What, no “collusion”?
The Telegraph notes another trend in English: the decline of gradable adverbs such as “quite,” “rather,” and “fairly” among British speakers. One linguist chalks this up to American influence: “Americans want to get to the point and say what they mean, whereas British people want to avoid conflict so use downtoners like ‘quites’ and ‘rathers’.” The change was spotted via human analysis as well as the use of computer scanners, discovering an evolutionary lag of “about 30 years” in the difference between British and American English.
If Martians landed and claimed Canada for themselves, wouldn’t that fit perfectly in the trajectory of North American history? Margaret Atwood’s bite-sized story “The Martians Claim Canada” (featuring her own illustrations) takes a wry look at her homeland via an imaginary conversation between alien tourists and a lowly mushroom, explaining why the nation’s origin story would make a terrible musical: “That’s their problem, the Canada people…They don’t know where to begin, and they don’t know what to put in. Or what to leave out. No matter how you tell the Canada story, someone is going to be offended. Then they all say ‘Sorry’ a lot.”
A longtime devotee of Transcendental Meditation, filmmaker David Lynch even wrote a book about his practice entitled Catching the Big Fish, his metaphor for plumbing the depths of consciousness for inspiration. Now Lynch fans are invited to participate in his love of meditation — and foster their own — with a new line of jewelry designed specifically for this purpose, available via the David Lynch Foundation. As he writes in the book: “If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.” Perhaps it helps to wear something a little sparkly to lure their attention.