Photo Courtesy of The Plate Gallery

April 29, 2016

GOOD TASTE ALONE | Lonesome Doers

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Does writing this make me a blogger? Like, semantically/morphologically, the suffix -er turns a verb into a noun describing someone who performs or is performing that verb (this is riveting content. I’m so proud). So anyone who is jogging, for example, is a jogger. But if you’ve only jogged once in your life (hashtag relatable), you wouldn’t call yourself a jogger. But you could, right? Or does an -er have to be someone who performs the verb regularly? Or someone who has performed it within the last six months without drugs to aid performance (wait, what am I even referencing?)? Pragmatically (a term I’m fairly certain I’m using incorrectly), we expect something more out of -er.

(I think I love parentheticals too much to be a blogger. I could maybe be a ghostwriter for criminals who aren’t good at encrypting messages (my messages would still be in plain English, just extensively parenthesized English). Then I could start a blog about my job.)

But just because I use parentheticals a lot (because it gives me the thrill my empty life is so starved for? Who can say) doesn’t mean I’m a parenthesizer. Because that’s not a thing. Or do I make it a thing simply by doing it? But I’m not the first person to ever use parentheses to this extent (probably). And yet we don’t have a word for it. So -er is a vessel of identity, not just a semantic tool. And that’s why when I jogged to the ice cream truck seven years ago no one would say I became a jogger except in the barest linguistic sense of the word.

BUT! If I don’t become a jogger simply because I jog, why is someone who murders someone a murderer for the rest of their life? I could just as easily have walked or trotted to the ice cream truck. I could also just as easily (in terms of physical ability, not mental willingness) have set it on fire. Each of those scenarios would have rendered me a different -er, and some of those identities would have stuck, and some would have faded away.

But (wow, this is the third paragraph in a row I’ve started with “but”; my readers will applaud my consistency – except that “but” sort of connotes inconsistency), at the end of the day, I’m still all of the things that I’ve done – a thinker, a sleeper, an eater, a li[a]r, a speaker, a parenthesizer. And I am none of these things more than any of the others until someone else decides that, for their intents and purposes, I am. And I could just as easily, two seconds from now, go out and do and become something else. And then I would have my actions retroactively applied to me as a label that the people around me can use to assume things about my intrinsic nature that they know nothing about.

Am I a hater of -er? At times I am (Which I guess means I am one). Because -er is an often destructive linguistic cop-out, a capitulation to the fact that all we can ever know for certain about a person is what we can perceive them doing, the wayward manifestation of a million disparate, latent tendencies. Everyone is alone until -er lets them become a lover, a laugher, a keeper of an identity that will hopefully be transparent and innocuous enough to find a companion whose meaning and value we’ll pick and choose from what we see.

So now I’ve done another blog post. But am I a blogger? I might never be the knower of that.