Friday, September 21, 2007

ramping up corporatespeak to optimize our meaninglessness

I remember being in a workshop with Amy Hempel years ago. She and Jill McCorkle were rolling their collective eyes at the word "monetize." This and other officese, those hunky neologisms that blur their way out of MBA programs like UrukHai orcs from Mordor, were categorically stupid, according to Hempel (and nod, nod, very eager nod, therefore stupid in the eyes of the adoring minions set around the table like bend-at-the-waist Lego people).

Did I agree? I wasn't so sure. I'm a fan of coinage and, for that matter, the even more common tendency to fall back on the figurative. Invention is our best privilege and pleasure, puppet show improvisation without the puppets. That said, I did find myself yielding. I had most certainly used words like monetize and impactful just that last week and I had to admit that they lacked the romantic whimsy of making up, say, a Carrollian phrase like "all mimsy were the borogroves" or populating the world with plain-belly sneetches and hinkle-horn honkers like the Seusses among us. I sat up straight, silent, blinking with as little expression on my face as possible (innocent!), but could feel my spirit (busted!) sinking below the plane of the roundtable.

What's resulted in the intervening years is my own half-wit slanguageno running with the coinage herdjust modified or adapted phrases that do the job, but much more importantly, that entertain me. I imagine I might confuse my coworkers with dopey linguistic vagary when I could just say the damn thing already. It's worth it, though. One should always avoid (well, one should always avoid always to start) both clich├ęs and buzzwords. We're better than frank and dull, aren't we, noble procrastinator reading my sillyblog? I've established a redemptive livelihood out of vivisecting vital elements from hackneyed phrases and getting the job done despite it.

So clearly I'm having a good time. But I should share my post-surgery phrases with you, a sampling from the week expressly for your edification. Because I know it can't be only about entertaining myself forever. And when it comes down to it, if you hold on tight, I always come around. I always prove what a giver I am. For you, my dear invisible comrade. Use at will and marvel at the fun you'll have!

Okay so, what's our drop dead?
This means what is the absolute last, most merciful deadline that you can give me to whip my author into producing what I should have gotten her to send me a week ago?

Over and out.
I tag this onto the end of emails to express: I'm done talking to you now and am moving onto the unilateral-decision stage.

The truth will set you free, but so will a lie.
This is a stolen song lyric that unhinges tricky limits and frees us to be as creative as we please with marketing materials. Amen!

We've got two floors for the elevator pitch and this is written for the Empire State.
This is just one example of the boundless utility of metaphorical camouflage. It means you talk too much. People will stop listening to you after the second sentence.

I hear you. Totally.
This means I was typing an email while you were talking and I've just noticed you stopped talking.