Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Greatest Post

My generation uses superlatives because we have to sell our experiences. If what happened to me wasn't the "funniest", "best", or "weirdest", then why would anyone listen? Thus, an office chair with a broken wheel is sold in the package: "the worst thing happened to me at work". The sound of a dropped telephone in the other room becomes "the scariest noise". And a new red shirt can be considered "the nicest".

Have people always had to sell their stories by tacking on exaggerated descriptions? Or is it just because we grew up with commercials that described toys with the word "Turbo"?

I think it has always been a tendency of human beings to exaggerate. To mythologize. Achilles can't be killed. A massive school of dolphins indicates the changing tide of war in the Tale of Heike. The Green Knight is decapitated only to pick up his head and leave the room.

We prefer wild, imaginative interpretations to straightforward facts. A love of exaggeration is prevalent across time and cultures.



lfar said...

How about "always" and "never".
"I ALWAYS use superlatives." I've been trying to cut down on my always and nevers, but not on my "the best!"s and "the worst!"s. I think it started because I thought using "the worst" as an adjective to replace "sucks" was really funny.

Easy example:
a. That shirt sucks
b. That shirt is the worst

More fun example:
a. How sucky was that movie?
b. How the worst was the movie?

You do have a point though (as always)

Liz said...

That was my most favourite post you've ever written. Possibly the bestest writing on the internet. I lurve it to death.

I think that another aspect of this issue is the personalization of superlatives. They captivate again after being abused because their alteration catches the ear.

All the blurst,