Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

12 August 2010

Rinse and Repeat

On the way into Century City one morning last week, a reporter on the BBC who was discussing elections in Kenya described the occasion of a vote on Kenya's new constitution as follows:

"It is a momentous moment."
"A momentous moment"? Really? I was instantly reminded of my high-school group of friends' favorite repetitive phrase. It was first uttered by our friend Sarah, but has since become a kind of trope which we trot out constantly to mock others' idiotic verbal pyrotechnics. The classic phrase of Sarah's is:

"Ahhh! I love all of this natural nature."
But once I got to Century City, where I was attending the annual conference of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, I began to hear more such repetitions. For instance, I heard playwright Erik Ehn describe the Central African area of Uganda and Rwanda as:

"a particularly regional region."
Ehn caught himself immediately and we all laughed because we all actually knew that he had meant to describe the region as focused on regional concerns as opposed to national ones. (In this way we might say that the American South, for instance, is a more regional region than, say, the Pacific Northwest.) But then later that day I heard someone say that:

"The committee is very committed to multidisciplinarity."
and someone else:

"Well, I mean, they had some choice in choosing..."
The last of these that I heard was the last day of the conference near the hour of 8:00a, so the phrase's perpetrator can probably be forgiven; still, I could not help but laugh when someone asked:

"Is there anyone who would like to self-nominate themselves?"