The Valise in the Foyer

 

I don't think I'm the smartest bulb in the box. But I'd like to consider myself able to, at least, understand most conversations. This scene from Hail Caesar is remarkably close to my experience when people slip into "art rhetoric." A couple of days ago, another designer told me she was interested in pursuing "speculative artifacts of design." Those sound like words, but together, I just thought, isn't that the same as "something?" 

Another person at a dinner party told me he worked on "hybrid technologies." That sounded super cool, but then I realized that meant using motion, print, and web design. Why not just say that? I feel pretty stupid when I need to lean over and ask a friend, "Each word makes sense, but together make no sense. What does it mean?"

I thought the goal of good American English was plain speaking. Say what you mean as clearly as possible. If a simpler word exists, use that. Reject all pretentious language. I was wrong. Now I sprinkle conversations with these words: 

Vernacular
Hybridization
Visceral
Artifact
Self-Referential
Appropriation

Try it. Add them to any conversation. "I was at the studio, or design laboratory as we say, and we began exploring the appropriation of vernacular artifacts. Of course, everyone was amazed at the visceral response and saw the self-referential issues immediately."

Or call your grip a "valise."