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Taylor Mali poem, animated
August 1, 2012 4:41 AM   Subscribe

A typographical animation of Taylor Mali's poem, "Totally like whatever, you know?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher (18 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm like, not sure about what this is saying, like - is it saying that we aren't you know like spelling good enough or what? Like, my thoughts my I don't know my ideas and shit don't like climb all over each other like that and what was up with that tree word thing man? What does aggressively inarticulate mean?

Don't be a hater, people!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:02 AM on August 1, 2012


Oh, this is wonderful! We've shared this poem (but not this version of it) around the English department for some time, and his phrase "aggressively inarticulate" has become common parlance in division meetings. Not that the teachers are much better, ya know?
posted by Lectrolamb at 6:54 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Making everything a question is a point of national pride in my country, eh?

Maybe we should be ashamed for betraying our fallibility and stuff? Maybe humility is, like, a weakness or whatever?

Maybe being wrong -- or evil, even -- is fine just so long as you, like, sound right? Maybe it's okay if a lot of people believe your bullshit just because it was, like, really super declarative and everything?

No. It isn't. Fuck that.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:40 AM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sys Rq - I think you've missed the point. The poem isn't implying that questions or uncertainty are bad things, nor is it implying that speaking with a false sense of authority when you aren't sure of something is a good thing. (It definitely isn't saying that begin wrong or evil is totally cool as long as you sound like you're right.) It's suggesting that the inability to speak with conviction about one's own beliefs is a problem. How can you stand up for something if you're acting like you're not even sure if you believe what you're saying?

Annnnnnyway...has Taylor Mali ever shown up on the blue before? He's fantastic and I want to go and listen to his Conviction album (from which this poem is taken) once I get home from work today.
posted by asnider at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I discovered this comic strip mere minutes after watching the video in the FPP. It seems relevant.
posted by asnider at 8:40 AM on August 1, 2012


Man this is really great, and I'd never heard it before.

At Sys Rq, I think making strongly-worded sentences is actually a prerequisite for admitting you're wrong. You must admit to yourself *exactly* what it is you purport to believe, then transmit that thought as clearly as possible to others. You swallow the assumptions that your beliefs make, let other people look over them with scrutiny and, occasionally, admit that there was a flaw in your initial statement. Speaking in vagueries has been a tactic of politics and psuedoscience for some time; never making hard statements allows one to never be proven wrong, and it is a deep sin of rhetoric. This concept is also a large portion of the scientific method: always speak your finding as clearly as possible with its flaws in plain view, then seek disconfirming evidence and ask others to do the same. In short, everything you believe should be falsifiable (or else you'll never find out if your beliefs are wrong).
posted by Buckt at 9:16 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jeez. I read that and I go (no word for this: bug eyes and compressed mouth, sharp puff of breath). And my wife goes (sort of a shrug, cocks her head to one side).

I guess the language is evolving. Thank the cosmic muffin we have the camera phone.
posted by mule98J at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2012


what about poverty of vocabulary and simplified syntactic structure

are those relevant
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:37 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Annnnnnyway...has Taylor Mali ever shown up on the blue before?

Yes, and it was good.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:56 AM on August 1, 2012


Speaking in vagueries has been a tactic of politics and psuedoscience for some time; never making hard statements allows one to never be proven wrong, and it is a deep sin of rhetoric.

Fox News: Fair & Balanced & Free of Rhetorical Sins
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2012


CRITicizing HETerodox SPEECH melody in a ROLlicking rePETititve RHYthm isn't WISdom; it's hyPOCrisy.
posted by erniepan at 11:01 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unless, of course, you're, like, doing it on purpose erniepan?
posted by papercake at 11:14 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of that one poem where Emily Dickinson was all like "You got to speak with CONVICTION, dogg."
posted by sleevener at 11:33 AM on August 1, 2012


Okay this will be unpopular but while I agree the hipster version of this as taken to extreme and applied to everything one utters is too much and annoying, I am so fucking tired of the opposite of this that a general move to more reflection and self questioning makes me happy would that it were actually done by people with power and not just twenty year olds who are still finding their place. That is, I am so tired of people telling me things with conviction and even a little condescension in their voices (subtext, "silly girl"), sounding so convinced and convincing they make me question myself, and then as it turns out in fact being totally and completely wrong. But they are so used to doing this shit that it doesn't even register on their radar as something to maybe sorry about, because they weren't taught to admit uncertainty or couch their language in qualifiers like "I think" or "I believe," but instead make proclamations like Moses and leave it for the plebes to sort out that the amount of conviction someone speaks with doesn't really mean anything. In fact if we're being honest the amount of conviction people speak with often has an inverse relationship to how right they are.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:00 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


they weren't taught to admit uncertainty or couch their language in qualifiers like "I think" or "I believe," but instead make proclamations

I don't think that's what is going on in the poem. I think Mali would be totally fine with someone saying: "I believe [declarative sentence]." He is criticizing those who say: "[Declarative sentence]?" as if it's a question, as if they are asking permission to believe what they believe and will brush off what they've said as "only a question" if someone disagrees with them or puts them down for holding that opinion.
posted by asnider at 12:25 PM on August 1, 2012


onlyconnect,

You may already be familiar with this, but Yeats put it best:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:40 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Taylor is a friend; nice to see his name pop up in the blue.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:50 PM on August 1, 2012


I think you've missed the point. The poem isn't implying that questions or uncertainty are bad things, nor is it implying that speaking with a false sense of authority when you aren't sure of something is a good thing

The universe is vast, the information which can prove or disprove most any statement could be lurking in some yet unexplored corner of it. People used to speak with conviction about the sun revolving around the earth or phlogiston or the flatness of the earth or what have you. If you're "sure" of something, that is almost automatically by some measure a false sense of authority.
posted by juv3nal at 11:33 PM on August 3, 2012


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