Ceci n'est pas un meta
May 6, 2012 8:55 AM Subscribe
posted by beagle (25 comments total)
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Ben Zimmer, the alternate-weeks author of the Boston Globe's language column, The Word, has a column today ("Dude, this headline is so meta") about the drift in the meaning of the prefix "meta"
over the past few decades, from “above or beyond” (the metaphysical realm is beyond the physical one) or “at a higher level of abstraction” (metalanguage is language used to describe other language)
to “consciously self-referential” ... a perfect meta-commentary on the consciously self-referential age we live in.
While "meta-" itself may have recently evolved in meaning toward self-referentiality, the idea of a work of art, literature or commentary referring to itself is much older. You can find it in many major religious texts, particularly in the Quran
. Shakespeare is often metatheatrical
, in Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream and elsewhere.