Neo-Freudian semantic cultural critique alive, well

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 24 21:18:49 UTC 2011

This is the kind of thing that should have ended years ago. And maybe
it did, since this is from 2006. But I doubt it.

A famed _New Yorker_ TV critic  goes deep into military semantics (May
1, 2006; p. 90):

"[According to special-ops chronicler Eric L. Haney, the secretive]
Delta Force, whose official name is 1st Special Forces Operational
Detachment-Delta, is always referred to by its members simply as 'the
unit.'  (It's surely a coincidence that the word 'unit' in addition to
being an unremarkable, standard term for a military grouping, is also
slang for the male genitalia, but in this context it's a rather happy

What, no "!" after "happy one"?  Since it's "surely a coincidence,"
it's utterly meaningless, "happy" or not.  But the use of "surely"
adds, almost by magic, a deep suspicion that it ain't no coincidence
at all.  And if it isn't, you know what *that* means. (Sorta kinda, in
a neo-Freudian, homoerotic, narcissistic, sadomasochistic,  psycho
way, best not put into words because then its total ambiguity and/or
silliness would be obvious to many readers of the _New Yorker_.)

Now, if Delta [get it?] Force members [get it?] always referred to
their unit (not their units) as "the penis," I'd say that might be
significant. Though I'm not 100% sure of what.

I mention it because said critic undoubtedly learned this glibly
faux-semantic approach to meaning at a high-prestige university. Also,
it's time to throw away the magazine.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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