Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Friday, August 25, 2006

For Your "Vocabulary Builder" Word-A-Day Calendar

A few cool-ass neologisms from a once-hip, now mostly forgotten source: the novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, by Douglas Coupland.* The book stuffed a bunch of new-fangled words in sidebars. A few of the best ones:

2 + 2 = 5-ism - caving in to a target marketing strategy aimed at oneself after holding out for a long period of time: "Oh, all right, I'll buy your stupid cola. Now leave me alone."

café minimalism - to espouse a philosophy of minimalism without actually putting into practice any of its tenets.

celebrity schadenfreude - lurid thrills derived from talking about celebrity deaths.

clique maintenance - the need of one generation to see the generation following it as deficient so as to bolster its own collective ego: "Kids today do nothing. They're so apathetic. We used to go out and protest. All they do is shop and complain."

derision preemption - a life-style tactic; the refusal to go out on any sort of emotional limb so as to avoid mockery from peers. Derision Preemption is the main goal of Knee-Jerk Irony.

emotional ketchup burst - the bottling up of opinions and emotions inside oneself so that they explosively burst forth all at once, shocking and confusing employers and friends — most of whom thought things were fine.

fame-induced apathy - the attitude that no activity is worth pursuing unless one can become very famous pursuing it. Fame-induced apathy mimics laziness, but its roots are much deeper.

me-ism - a search by an individual, in the absence of training in traditional religious tenets, to formulate a personally tailored religion by himself. Most frequently a mishmash of reincarnation, personal dialogue with a nebulously defined god figure, naturalism, and karmic eye-for-eye attitudes.

mid-twenties breakdown - a period of mental collapse occuring in one's twenties, often caused by an inability to function outside of school or structured environments coupled with a realization of one's essential aloneness in the world. Often marks induction into the ritual of pharmaceutical usage.

musical hairsplitting - the act of classifying music and musicians into pathologically picayune categories: "The Vienna Franks are a good example of urban white acid folk revivalism crossed with ska."

I consider these perfectly cromulent words.

*Yep, Sweet Dougie Fresh and his novel Generation X were briefly considered vital touchstones to the generation of Americans born between 1961-81. Like most everything designed to tap into a generation's consciousness directly, the book was forgotten in short order. True generational touchstones, such as Gen-X's beloved Mr. T, aren't planned as such.

Perhaps when my age cohort grows old and surly and decides to look back upon itself with goopy nostalgia (VH1's current broadcast practices notwithstanding), rather than fill the televisions with images of Jerry Garcia and the overused phrase "what a long, strange trip it's been," as my parents' cohort did, we will show Mr. T and the phrase "I pity the fool."


  • I think Coupland wishes that Generation X had been forgotten a little more than it has been. It's obvious from his most recent novel jpod that he's pretty sick of hearing about it, to the point where he doesn't even want to admit that there's an actual generation out there (that he belongs to!) that it refers to.

    Generational studies is one of my big interests (I'm a fairly orthodox Howe-and-Straussian ( and as such I'm quite familiar with the novel. I think Coupland's real problem is that his novel was on the vanguard of popular culture's discovery that there were people born after the Boom, and he got so swamped by Gen-X-the-media-phenomenon that he has no patience with the idea of Gen-X-the-generation. Coupland has often said that "Gen X is over", and he's right in one sense: the media phenomenon is over. But those of us born between '61 and '81 remain, and Generation X is still one of our significant cultural artifacts, even if it seems dated today.

    By Blogger Matthew E, at 10:22 AM  

  • What you call cafe-minimalism I've come to refer to as "cappuchino communists."

    By Blogger joncormier, at 9:51 AM  

  • I'm very confuse with those marketing strategies I didn't get anything If someone could explain to me I will be graceful.


    By Anonymous viagra online, at 3:44 PM  

  • It must be very useful to learn these words to be used in an informal conversation among friends. Something that I like about the language is that we can create new words every single day.

    By Anonymous viagra online, at 12:24 PM  

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