29 October 2007

I need better portmanteaux.

I need something between "profound" and "faux"... Fauxfound doesn't cut it, even though it's a good sound-alike. Profauxnd is more the right idea, but still not quite on. I'm referring to this, which I read in Chuck Palahniuk's latest, Rant, last night:
If you ponder the thought, no one ever closes a thoroughfare due to the death of an individual. You can still drive over the spot on which James Dean died, or Jayne Mansfield, or Jackson Pollock. You can drive over the spot where a bus drove over Margaret Mitchell. Grace Kelly. Ernie Kovacs. Death is a tragic event, but stopping the flow of traffic always seen as the greater crime.
So, on the surface, this seems deep. "Yeah, wait a minute! Those were serious things. I mean, you can still drive down the the street where Kennedy was assassinated, and sure that has about about great an influence on the future of America as any street-death since Archduke Franz Ferdinand." And, hell, also, every time you get on the road, you're probably going to pass at least ONE spot where someone died. If you multiply that out by how much driving most people do, that actually a little foul.

But, back up a step. Why in hell would you close a road permanently because someone--even a famous someone--died there? And, more to the point, how is the death of ONE PERSON, even a famous person, actually a tragedy? People die; it's in the charter. The *circumstances* of death can be a tragedy, sure. But seriously, if someone fails to die that is far more interesting to me, than all those other people who are doing what they're supposed to.

I realize that Palahniuk is (to understate a thing) fond of hyperbole. I realize that he's making a comment about a certain mentality, with this line. But what alarms me is the possibility that there are folks out there who will read a thing like that, or hear a thing like that, and be swayed by it. They will actually succumb to the Fauxfoundity of it all, repeat it to their friends. Submit a petition to the highway commission about it. That's really, really depressing.


Rufus said...

Minor question- why 'ponder the thought' instead of 'think about it'? His writing is hilarious, but it often reads like he needs a better editor.

Rufus said...

Also, I used to work for the department of transportation, and the interesting thing is that it takes a certain number of accidents for them to put in signs or a light in most places. If say two people die at an intersection in separate events, they leave it. But, if there are three accidents with deaths, they put in a light.

What I'm waiting for is families to start competing with the wreaths and crosses that they leave by the side of the road for their dead teenagers. I envision shows like 'Pimp My Memorial' on MTV.

Holly said...

Rufus - Pimp My Memorial has *serious* potential. I think we should pitch this, before someone from American Chopper thinks of it.

As far as the ponder, I believe the point is that the character in speaking there is a bit of a pretentious ass. Why say "think" when you could say "ponder the thought" instead? I don't claim to be a Palahniuk scholar or whatever, but I've found consistently that there is reason behind even the least reasonable of his moves, and I'm willing to cede the possibility that the things that seem under-edited probably were defensible decisions, even if they're not ones you and I would've bothered to fight for.