Neo-Freudian semantic cultural critique alive, well

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 25 12:25:44 UTC 2011

The thinking behind such analyses seems to go like this:

"X makes me think of Y. Because some kind of theoretical connection
between the two is possible, X must really be an example of Y, or even
Y's related concept, Z. And it tells me a great deal about how other
people think."


On Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 5:18 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Neo-Freudian semantic cultural critique alive, well
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> one.)"
> 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.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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"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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