We're So 'Meta'
January 28, 2003 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm mo' "meta" than you! This USA Today puff piece is claiming that "meta" is the new "cool." What are your thoughts on this? Do any of you use "meta" in conversation or writing without a noun following it? (when you're not referring to the abbreviation for MetaTalk, obviously...)
posted by popvulture (64 comments total)
OhMYGawd........I just Meta'd on Mefi (not MetaTalk either). I must really be in touch with the MetaZeigeist......


Hey hey! - chill there dude. It's better than 'paradigm'
posted by troutfishing at 2:03 PM on January 28, 2003

Do any of you use "meta" in conversation or writing without a noun following it?


I mean, like, gag me with a spoon...
posted by Shane at 2:04 PM on January 28, 2003

Do any of you use "meta" in conversation or writing without a noun following it?

Only when satirizing those who do.
posted by holycola at 2:05 PM on January 28, 2003

M374 - f0r 7h3 n3w 31337
posted by y0mbo at 2:08 PM on January 28, 2003

Meta-journalism? That would be the moment in which I tell you how writing this article has taken me back to English 101.

Most journalists who use this technique fail to convince me that they had to "go back" to find themselves in English 101 again.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:08 PM on January 28, 2003

guilty, I've owned metahari.com since college (but not updated it lately, this is not an ad, avert your eyes)
posted by dreamling at 2:12 PM on January 28, 2003

The idea of 'meta' is pretty old, at least in literature. Here is some information about metafiction in Don Quixote.

Here's a paper on metafiction in which the author traces the first use of the term 'metafiction' to refer to self-reflexivity in fiction to a paper by William Gass published in 1970.
posted by drobot at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2003

And I quote the good Filthy Critic,

Adaptation is a movie that people in Starbucks would probably call "meta" something, without really knowing exactly what that means.
posted by xmutex at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2003

dreamling - that's a metagreat domain name. Would you trade it for a slightly used Tapir? It's all I have at the moment... slightly used tapir? why that's...that's....metabestial!

I know some folks who sold "ourhouse.com" for $300,000 in '98. But hey.....the market's gone down a lot...
posted by troutfishing at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2003

posted by troutfishing at 2:31 PM on January 28, 2003

Metanoia - your paranoia that everyone is out to get you proves to be all true
posted by troutfishing at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2003


Thankyou thankyou.
posted by ac at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2003

That's MetaLame.
posted by jonson at 2:33 PM on January 28, 2003

My brain feels really constipated today. Should I take some MetaMucil?
posted by troutfishing at 2:35 PM on January 28, 2003

more prognostication from Olivia Barker:
Corsets? Yes, you can-can!
Mohawk isn't as hair-raising as it used to be
Mechanical bulls back in vogue

and my favorite:
Kids can't wait to study the electoral confusion

She's a real life Jackie Harvey.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:36 PM on January 28, 2003

I guess I'm guilty of this linguistical slip. I sometimes use the term to describe a movie or book that refers to itself, "Martin Amis can get very meta..." I started using it in the same way I use "anti" to descibe something that is purposfully against mainstream culture, "Bill hicks is so anti...." I don't know when I started doing this but nobody has ever seemed annoyed by it. Honestly, I used to say "recursive" instead of "meta", but nobody knew what it meant. Oh, and I still use "uber", usually when insulting a friend, "Your an uber-tard, dude."
I think I just used up my quotation quota for the day
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:37 PM on January 28, 2003

This thread should be metastasized.
posted by ac at 2:38 PM on January 28, 2003

Metanoia is actually a word, troutfishing. Means knowing God through repentance, I think.

My take on "meta?" I guess I ain't down with the hepcats, cuz I've hardly ever heard the prefix uttered out loud.
posted by kozad at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2003

Clearly this makes Douglas Hofstadter the coolest person ever. I can live with that.
posted by tss at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2003

Self-referential works for me.

Some folks never meta (sic) buzzword they didn't like.
posted by psmealey at 2:46 PM on January 28, 2003

USA Today? Whatever coolness there may have been is now long gone.
posted by shoos at 2:46 PM on January 28, 2003

Giga cool.
posted by riffola at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2003

And Laura Miller waxed "meta" a few months ago, which cited "meta" observations found also in David Lodge's Consciousness and the Novel (which also mentioned "memes" and "meta"), which in turn cited a few observations from somebody else. Which makes meta the ultimate meme, or something close to it.

It was only a matter of time before "meta" would reach the same mainstream status as "blog." But the question is: can you live with it?
posted by ed at 2:49 PM on January 28, 2003

This comment is meta.
posted by vraxoin at 2:49 PM on January 28, 2003

Does anyone have a meta4?
posted by SweetIceT at 2:53 PM on January 28, 2003

Meta is sooooooo played out. I'm almost embarassed to be around you foos.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:55 PM on January 28, 2003

I thought the wordcame from the Rolling Stones song about a girl--you know: I meta gentle---I just can't get her off my mind.

The origianl text mistakes. The play within a play in Hamlet is referential to the act done by the uncle (murdering Hamlet's daddy) and is not self-reverential. For that in a play, see Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author or, closer to Shake., Beaumont and Fletcher's The Burning Pestle and the very contemporary Chorus Line.

Meta+ is more often than not these days is basically self-referential and is perhaps akin to Irony. In both instances we show our hip awareness by refraining to dig into something with attachment and feeling but remain outside, visitors to what is going on, lest we be show ourseolves to be partisan.
posted by Postroad at 3:03 PM on January 28, 2003

I'll admit that I used "meta" recently over breakfast and my companion said "meta?!? THAT's not a word..."
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:04 PM on January 28, 2003

When used improperly, it's almost as annoying as "hella". That is not to say that "hella" could ever be used properly, however.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:04 PM on January 28, 2003

Metahella is so royallee l33t that its the beast!
posted by ac at 3:09 PM on January 28, 2003

Great stuff eddydamascene. She really has got her finger on the pulse of popular culture. In fact I remember quite well those carefree days during the summer of 2001 when all the ladies were into riding mechanical bulls while sporting the latest corsets and bustiers.
posted by pitchblende at 3:15 PM on January 28, 2003

This is a comment in the "meta" thread on MetaFilter.
posted by notclosed at 3:23 PM on January 28, 2003

It always bugged me that 'MetaTalk' was 'MetaTalk' rather than 'MetaMetaFilter.' But I suppose consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:34 PM on January 28, 2003

The birth of a meme.
this is off topic, as it deals with memes, but it's kinda meta too...

On preview: We do not discuss MetaMetafilter.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:37 PM on January 28, 2003

There is no MetaMetaFilter. Move along, nothing to see here ...
posted by dg at 3:54 PM on January 28, 2003

Hm. God forbid that the hipster trendies sit back and actually reexamine their lives.

That is to say, Adaptation was a pretty fine movie.

[Insert obligatory meta joke here.]
posted by Skwirl at 4:12 PM on January 28, 2003

'MetaMetafilter' was the prototype's codename....

when it was in beta......
posted by dash_slot- at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2003

I can say that I've never heard anyone say "Meta" out loud, and if they did, I would expect them to be sitting in a cafe sipping something unpronouncable. Probably be having an existential crisis of some kind. You know the type.
posted by Kevs at 4:19 PM on January 28, 2003

You know the type.

Wearing a beret? Smoking 'Gauloises'? Oh, I know him...

Some of my best friends are French.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:27 PM on January 28, 2003

a foolish consistency IshmaelGraves - you know just in case Hope Davis is reading this.
posted by willnot at 4:30 PM on January 28, 2003

Hey, leave my existential crisis out of this.
*adjust beret, takes drag off of a Gauloises*
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:10 PM on January 28, 2003

Mo' meta is mo' better.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:15 PM on January 28, 2003

I'm spearheading a new linguistic fad where you stack up common suffixes to twist the meaning of the original word and confound the listener.

For instance, I like to tell my redneck co-workers that I'm a homophobophobe or a Russophilophag.

I'm also fine-tuning a little thing I like to call Air Formatting. It's similar to the air quotes gesture that people often do, but I've added bold and italics formatting, along with a bitchin' air semicolon that makes people stop interrupting me.

You can imagine how fun it is to be around me!
posted by yalestar at 5:31 PM on January 28, 2003

i'm sure we had this before, but i can't find the thread. afaik (and fyi) the difference between meta and self-referential is that meta is a separate layer. so meta-language is a separate language that is used to describe the "original" language, while self-referential is referring to something within the same language. so self-referential involves loops and, often, contradictions and paradoxes (this sentence is false), while meta (the sentence "this sentence is false" is self-referential) doesn't. but no-one seems to care. sniff.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:32 PM on January 28, 2003

aha. here.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:34 PM on January 28, 2003

cooke is right.
*sips something unpronounceable, ponders the emptiness of existence*
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:36 PM on January 28, 2003

as winterfell said, recursion isn't meta. in fact, meta is used to break recursion - it's the difference between commenting about a thread within metafilter (recursion, assuming you're commenting on the same thread) or metatalk (meta, assuming you're commenting about a thread in metafilter).

recursion is dangerous because it leads to paradoxes and logical inconsistency (and unreliability). hence the introduction of meta, which lets you reason about the inconsistency in a separate system that hasn't been "polluted" by the recursion.

posted by andrew cooke at 7:00 AM PST on November 17

I use 'meta' wrong. I'd been making no distinction between recursion and meta. Thanks andrew cooke, now I can annoy people and be accurate.
*goes back to working on manifesto*
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:42 PM on January 28, 2003


My brain feels really constipated today. Should I take some MetaMucil?

Fortunately, it's simply as easy as reading about Mucil.

Not to be conused with mucilage.
posted by namespan at 5:53 PM on January 28, 2003

MetaMetafilter isn't really correct, since there's only one MetaFilter, right?

However, since I pass along links to my friends that I get here, I am in effect a MetaFilterFilter.
posted by Hildago at 6:25 PM on January 28, 2003

This is a link to a book about meta inside a comment in the "meta" thread on MetaFilter.
posted by brittney at 7:26 PM on January 28, 2003

only if I was really looking forward to a co-worker unloading a can of whip-ass on me.
posted by drinkmaildave at 7:43 PM on January 28, 2003

I work with metadata ... but nobody's ever said it was cool. Some did say it sounded kinda nerdy though.o
posted by carter at 8:00 PM on January 28, 2003

namespan - thanks so much! I feel....Metapurged
posted by troutfishing at 8:29 PM on January 28, 2003

I think I've got it now.

Self-Referential: This sentence is false.
Meta: That sentence is false.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 10:43 PM on January 28, 2003

I should like to metacommunicate concerning posts and comments a little too light in the loafers in terms of thought and execution, if you know what I mean, but I do not know with whom to start.
posted by y2karl at 12:31 AM on January 29, 2003

I really can't stand the word meta. In the places I hang out in online, it stands for constant navel gazing and flamewars....
posted by Katemonkey at 1:18 AM on January 29, 2003

"Metcalf thinks meta stands a chance of becoming ''pretty well-established.''
I thought that said Metacalf. Mmmm. Uberkalbfleisch.

Yalestar, thanks for the giggles.
posted by Dick Paris at 2:50 AM on January 29, 2003

"Metadata" gets thrown around our office a lot. Other than that... uh, no, I haven't heard anyone use it outside of here, unless they happen to mention metabolism or metaphysics.
posted by Foosnark at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2003

I don't even know what it means.
posted by ed\26h at 8:30 AM on January 29, 2003

Boy do I feel sorry for the dude who started a "network" with the prefix of Meta. Who would've thought that 3 years later Meta would become so cool it's not cool, bet he didn't see this coming.

Just kidding Matt
posted by DBAPaul at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2003

Metajoke, from Metafilter:

Me: "Doc, you've got to do something. My brain feels so congested - full of all sorts of useless crap, like contradictory definitions of "Metanoia", all this meta-crap. Meta this, meta that...and then there's the thing about the Tapirs....Can you give me something like MetaMucil - but for my brain - to clean it out?"

Doc: "No, but I have some Mucil. You know, it's like one of those reactions the Alchemists used to talk about, contradictory, counterintuitive, and sometimes it works like a charm. Try it. What do you have to lose?."

(Takes huge multicolored pill offered by Doctor...)

Me: "I don't feel so well....I think..I think I've been here before........ohMyGawd, I CAN'T GET OUT OF META....my head! my head! my..."

*world starts do twist and distort like play-dough in heat*

Onlooker *screams* "Somebody stop him.....he's....he's...he's got a Meta! and it looks like it's going to Metasticize!!!!!!
posted by troutfishing at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2003

I read a review of Adaptation that panned it because it's very attempt of enclosing the narratives within a meta-narrative was sooooooo not meta. Which, in its way, is so meta.

Whoa. [Takes a deep hit] Imagine, there's, like, this whole universe, in one atom of your fingernail...
posted by Bootcut at 2:16 PM on January 29, 2003

Bootcut - Yeah! Imagine that you're actually living in this dream reality, but there's this real reality out there, but only if you wake up, and then one day you meet this wierd guy with these red and blue pills........
posted by troutfishing at 2:36 PM on January 29, 2003

You know, the weird think is... here we are. Talking about... meta. It's so meta-meta. But now that I've mentioned it, it's almost like we'd be talking about talking about meta, which would be meta-meta-meta. But once we go there, it's much like talking about talking about talking about meta, which is meta-meta-meta-meta.

I'd go on, but just perform the induction, please.

Of course, then there's the question of what you're talking about when you've finally performed the induction...

And also, the question of just how much of what goes on the web is simply navel gazing (in valid xhtml/css!).
posted by namespan at 6:37 PM on January 29, 2003

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