Monday, December 18, 2006

Hot hell I'm back...

And I want to talk to you about a pet peeve.

A friend of mine recently paraphrased some statements made by The Economist about fair trade and "organic" versus traditional farming.

My chief problem with this article -- and with the whole entire English-speaking world, frankly -- is the blatant misuse of the word organic by people who have clearly amassed sufficient education to write for The Economist yet appear unable to regurgitate a simple high school biology lesson.

The word organic, used not to describe a carbon-containing molecule but rather to describe anything from farming, to computing, to music and recording has become so sickeningly pervasive that the "inorganic" use of the word "organic" is now accepted universally, even outside the crunchy chatter of hippies who once used it chiefly to describe reefer and the hipst-icks who, lacking anything else intelligent to say about music, particularly when referring to a recording, pronounce it "organic."


The word organic, as used by today's modern farmer, bothers me a bit less than the other uses. I might grudgingly allow that at least the farmers are discussing vegetable or animal-based pesticides versus their chemically derivative brethren. But to use "organic" with respect to computing, or recording?

Could it be that my exercises in self-recorded glory are, after all, chock-full of hydrocarbons?

Let's play a fun word game where we substitute an adjective's literal definition for the adjective itself.

Example: "Lisa is really hot. / Lisa has a high temperature which may cause burning."

Now another one: "The new (insert hipster flavor of the month band here) recording is truly organic. / The new (insert hipster flavor of the month band here) recording is truly COMPOSED OF CARBON-CONTAINING MOLECULES."


Darlings, the definition of "organic," as I learned in "organic" chemistry, is a MOLECULE THAT CONTAINS CARBON!!! So - (and duhhhh) - all life is carbon-based; therefore, any cell that is or was at one point living is referred to as organic material. So let me explain something.

The hipsters in the band, believe it or not, are carbon-based and therefore, organic.
Their recording is not, even if they use analog equipment. Unless, that is, they have found a way to manufacture listening devices out of skin. (Have they?)

Let's continue the lesson:

A fungus is organic.
A dead Labrador in a driveway is organic. (note: while the dog is organic, the driveway is not)
germs are organic.
Kleenex brand tissues are nnooo(oooh - wait, kleenex are made of lumber--thus, kleenex brand tissues ARE ORGANIC!)
And so are your chairs! If they are made of wood, that is, regardless of whether or not logging of said wood is contributing to deforestation.
Your lawn chairs may be inorganic. Check to see if they are plastic before labeling.
A fur coat is -- yep! -- organic! Unless it's faux fur. Faux fur is inorganic!
So is water! (whoa)
But fish in the water are..(wait for it)!!!!
Are Swedish Fish organic? (I DON'T WANT TO KNOW!)
Exclamation points are inorganic.
So are feelings and ideas.
Teeth are organic, even when chomping "inorganic" food.
Unless they are gold teeth. Which This one's tricky. Gold is inorganic, but gold jewelry is the element gold (au) paired with other metals, like zinc, which!

I know it can be confusing. But you know what's not confusing? Whether or not music is organic. It's NOT!

The result of today's lesson should be this: While your music may in fact be "alive with pleasure;" unless it has spontaneously mutated into some form of carbon, it is not, I'm afraid, organic.

Mind you, I'm not making any value judgments about organic foods. I like the idea of something that uses processes and methods that are closer to those that nature intended.

Wait, who am I kidding? Nature did not intend for me to wear contact lenses or have straight hair, nature didn't intend for me to brush my teeth with sweet plastic bristly brushes or to floss, to put aluminum on my armpits, to fly, to enjoy cable television, or to get pedicures.

So forget nature, forget organic, and let's dissect whoever added all the inorganic definitions of the word organic to the dictionary down to his or her parts.

Remember: If frequent misuse was sufficient reason to incorporate a word into the accepted vernacular, "alot" would be in the dictionary by now.


-- also --

Props to P. in Baton Rouge for the shared ire not to mention the hot pockets.


Blogger Ryan said...

That is interesting... really. Marketing beef has taken a totally new twist since the implementation of "hormone free, organic beef" into the market place. I have argued the same point you just made - except you did it much more elequently.

10:18 PM  
Blogger red storm said...

I find inorganic beef to be much tasier than its organic counterpart. Then again, I generally favor cardboard-based entities over carbon-based organisms. Just wait until I start my new fad weight-loss craze. I'll call it "the new inorganic diet" and my motto will be "Melt pounds like plastic!"

11:10 PM  
Blogger rockthefaces said...

It should be noted that the compact Oxford English Dictionary has a total of six definitions for "organic," one of which is "characterized by natural development." Now, whether this has simply become an accepted definition thanks to use, or what, I don't know, but I can certainly see that being applied to the making of a record - i.e., if songs or arrangements just kind of came together in the studio rather than everything being meticulously pre-plotted. Still, I will agree with you that it a word that is over- and misused.

My personal nominee for that category, though, is "genius." You know, putting a man on the moon? That was genius. The polio vaccine? Genius. TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain? Eh...not so much.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Captain's Logue said...

one time i wrote a song on my piano titled, "fused with carbon"


10:24 AM  

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