Skip to comments.The Voice of the Neuter is Heard Throughout the Land
Posted on 01/26/2006 10:46:31 PM PST by Checkers
Dr. Filth, he keeps his world Inside of a leather cup But all his sexless patients They're trying to blow it up -- Bob Dylan: Desolation Row
LIKE SOME HAGGARD CRACK WHORE banging on the door of a dealer's den willing to do anything , the hapless Joel ( "I despise our troops." ) Stein has been passed randomly about the blogsphere in the last couple of days.
Once a blogpile of such mountainous proportions starts, there's little left to comment on in terms of the content of Stein's small dry excretion after the first five hours. By that time the whole quisling screed has been pretty much picked apart like a biology major dissects an owl's pellet and glues the contents to a board with captions.
Then it is time for the masters of the trade to go to work and perform, live and on the air, "The Final Evisceration." In this case, Hugh Hewitt comes forward with what is perhaps one of the best full flensings of his career. [Pointer and "flensing" courtesy of LILEKS (James) ]
If you have ever wanted to hear a classic radio interview cooly calculated to have the interviewee reveal himself in all his naked smallness before a national audience, you owe it to yourself to listen and read the audio and transcript of Hugh Hewitt interviewing Joel Stein. You owe it to yourself to listen to this segment -- and you'll need to listen in order to understand what comes next. You don't have to listen to all of it, although it is hard to turn the ear away. Just listen attentivily to the voice of Stein himself for a minute or so.
Go ahead. I'll wait here.
What is of interest to me here is not what Stein writes or says. His own words damn him more decisively than a thousand bloggers blathering blithely What interestest me is how he speaks.
If you focus on it, you realize that you hear this voice every day if you bounce around a bit in our larger cities buying this or ordering that, and in general running into young people in the "service" sector -- be it coffee shop, video store, department store, boutique, bookstore, or office cube farm. It's a kind of voice that was seldom heard anywhere but now seems to be everywhere.
It is the voice of the neuter .
I mean that in the grammatical sense: "a. Neither masculine nor feminine in gender. "b. Neither active nor passive; intransitive,"
and in the biological sense: "a. Biology Having undeveloped or imperfectly developed sexual organs: the neuter caste in social insects. "b. Botany Having no pistils or stamens; asexual. "c. Zoology Sexually undeveloped."
You hear this soft, inflected tone everywhere that young people below, roughly, 35 congregate. As flat as the bottles of spring water they carry and affectless as algae, it tends to always trend towards a slight rising question at the end of even simple declarative sentences. It has no timbre to it and no edge of assertion in it.
The voice whisps across your ears as if the speaker is in a state of perpetual uncertainty with every utterance. It is as if, male or female, there is no foundation or soul within the speaker on which the voice can rest and rise. As a result, it has a misty quality to it that denies it any unique character at all. It is the Valley Girl variation of the voices that Prufrock hears: I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. It's parting wistful wish for you is that you "Have a good one."
Above all, it is a sexless voice. Not, I hasten to add, a "gay" voice. Not that at all. It is neither that gentle nor that musical. Nor is it that old shabby lisping stereotype best consigned to the dustbin of popular culture. No, this is a new old voice of a generation of ostensible men and women who have been educated and acculturated out of, or say rather, to the far side of any gender at all. It is, as I have indicated above, the voice of the neutered. And in this I mean that of the transitive verb: To castrate or spay. The voice and the kids that carry it is the triumphant achievement of our halls of secondary and higher education. These children did not speak this way naturally, they were taught. And like good children seeking only to please their teachers and then their employers, they learned.
This is not to say that the new American Castrati of all genders live sexless lives. On the contrary, if reports are to be credited, they seem to have a good deal of sex, most often without the burden of love or the threat of chlldren, and in this they are condemned to the sex life of children.
No, it is only to say that this new voice that we hear throughout the land from so many of the young betokens a weaker and less certain brand of citizen than we have been used to in our history. Neither male nor female, neither gay nor straight, neither.... well, not anything substantive really. A generation finely tuned to irony and nothingness and tone deaf to duty and soul. If you can write in this tone, and Stein can, you can become a third level columnist for the Los Angeles Times. With a little luck, over time, you might even rise to the level of second string columnist for Vanity Fair. Should the country so lose its mind and elect another Clinton, you could even become a White House speech writer.
For now you can hear the poster child for this sexless cohort in Joel Stein's dulcet voice quavering and halting and rising to a falling lilting question as Hugh Hewitt exposes the nothingness at Stein's core in question after quiet question. When Hewitt is done, you ask yourself what Stein has actually said in answer to Hewitt's questions.
What Stein has said is what his whole cohort has said in response to questions of honor, duty, country. It is the standard issue answer and will be their standard issue epitaph:
This pretty much describes the conservative American's view of France. But it has arrived at a theater near you.
Ahh, but they're spurred into action with Pavlovian certainty...given the correct stimulus.
I have a niece...pod person, as above. I made a negative comment about two guys kissing on TV . She threw a vase at me, and burst into tears. They're an army of effete who will kill like robots for the politically correct reason, then declare insanity. Spooky.
The "Whatever" voice is the symbol of the whole disaffected, amoral, proudly disinterested pack running through our culture. I hear that voice every day in my work and it makes me want to scream. But then, I've been told all my life that I talk like...like I think MY opinion MEANS something, and don't I know that some people don't LIKE that tone in my voice?
Listen to the complete audio of this. And save it. It's a snapshot of a generation. And it sure as hell ain't the Greatest Generation.
" I talk like...like I think MY opinion MEANS something, and don't I know that some people don't LIKE that tone in my voice? "
It's made it virtually impossible for me to work congenially with people of a certain age, because they are enraged by any confident statement of opinion.
You threw it back I hope.
whoa... now that would have been worth having the video camera running - an instant America's funniest home videos classic!
FINALLY!!!! A thorough incisive article which discusses my total disgust with the sounds I hear each and every day.
Totally on target and thanks.
And yet, this same generation has given us these citizen-soldiers who risk all every day for all of us.
I know the type. They are the new "Holier Than Thou" church ladies without a church.
Give people something worth believing in, and they become transformed. Military does that, amongst other things.
This is the same thinking that condemns the entire 60's generation disregarding people that didn't rebel, people like W.
In a way this piece extends the thesis put forth in Bloom's book, The Closing of the American Mind; what drove him to distraction was the fact that his students had no convictions based in what they considered truth as though truth was just another condiment on the buffet tray.
"The "Whatever" voice is the symbol of the whole disaffected, amoral, proudly disinterested pack running through our culture. "
You can hear it every day, all day on NPR.
"You can hear it every day, all day on NPR."
Don't you threaten me. ;^)
"In a way this piece extends the thesis put forth in Bloom's book, The Closing of the American Mind"
It's a shame that book has faded into obscurity. It's a very important work, IMO.
That's it. The sound of an insulated, priviliged class. A dry, world-weary insolence bred of lethargy mistakenas dispassion.
The perfect bureacrats. Insects.
Last night I couldn't sleep and stayed up watching tv. I landed on WHYY, the Philadelphia PBS affiliate. They were airing, evidently having exhausted their usual nonsense, what I suppose they considered filler material: recordings of great performances by great artists, of the greatest works-- artists like Herman Prey, Kathleen Battle, works by Monteverdi and Handel,Strauss, Bernstein, classical ballet with Nuryev--to name just a few I can recall.
It was sublime, and I glimpsed a recollection of what we used to be.
What a difference.