I never, ever thought this would happen.
I always hated Current Events Day at school, when you had to clip some boring article out of the local paper and play "show and tell" with it. I hated the assignment in the ninth grade where we had to write about a current-events "dilemma." (I wrote about the death penalty and nearly died of boredom in the process.) (OK, so I was an apathetic teenager.) I have just never been into current events.
Now, my friend Jan enjoyed current events. And, not surprisingly, look where she is today. (Am I beaming with pride for her? Yes, I'm beaming.)
But I just didn't "get" current events. I preferred English and French classes, where I could explore language and literature--which, I self-righteously argued, lives forever--as opposed to the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of most current events items.
So why have I become a news junkie?
Part of it is that I love the internet. I love combing the internet for the latest news. I'm not so much interested in politics as I am in "spin." I guess it has to do with my interest in writing and literature, and the many levels of communication that you can have in a piece of writing. I read opinion columns like there's no tomorrow. I go from moveon.org and salon.com to nationalreview.com and marvel at how the different worldviews shape what is written and what is believed. I do the same, to a lesser extent, with the radio, flipping from NPR to the conservative station. As soon as I feel like I can't stomach the conservative station anymore (I don't like talk radio), I switch back to NPR. (When I get sick of both, I pop in my Teaching Company lectures, but that's another story.)
It's all so fascinating. I was just thinking the other day, "Maybe I'll go back to school and write my doctoral dissertation on this kind of thing--the way the different parties use language to forward their agenda, gain power for themselves, and discredit the 'other' side."
Heck, I thought. I like to write books. Maybe I'll even write a book. There's certainly plenty to write about.
Then I found a very interesting article today about George Lakoff. I recognize that name from graduate linguistics courses. He's a cognitive linguistics prof at UC-Berkeley and has written several books on just the kind of thing that interests me--the way we use language, and how that language reflects and enforces our political, cultural, etc., worldviews. His most important and well-known book is Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. It was required reading for the folks on Howard Dean's campaign team.
Lakoff calls himself a "progressive," which in Conservative-speak is "liberal." In this article, he talks about how to talk to conservatives ("simply confronting them with the facts won't help") (?), how to project a positive image (Focus on "strength." Remember all the talk of "strength" at the Democrat Convention?), and why the catchphrase "war on terror" wields such power.
I think I'm going to watch the Republican Convention and take notes. Deconstruct and think. Think and deconstruct. I just wish I'd thought about this for the Democrat Convention.
I was going to watch the Republicans anyway, in an effort to catch a glimpse of Jan. But now I can look for Jan and satisfy my news junkie cravings at the same time.
I can't believe I've become a news junkie. A "Law and Order" addict and a news junkie.
Sigh. It's time for a good, long hike.