Thursday, September 07, 2006

On the Other Hand, Gertrude Stein Said There's No There There.

The Noble Order of the Garter -- a British thingy you can look up here -- has for its motto Honi soit qui mal y pense which means "Shame upon him who thinks evil of it," which means: 1) You have a dirty mind; 2) This isn't junior high school, little mister.

But every copy editor and teacher of copy editors knows that a copy editor must have a dirty mind. It's de rigeur, one might say, as I maintain a high cultural tone for one last moment before I hit the lever and this string of bon mots goes right down the crapper.

So today we have this headline in the Chron:

Marketplace finds lesbians an attractive, but elusive, niche
Still, target group seems ripe for growth

And here from

niche ornamental recess in a wall or the like, usually semicircular in plan and arched, as for a statue or other decorative object.
2.a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person or thing: to find one's niche in the business world.
3.a distinct segment of a market.
4.Ecology. the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals.
5.pertaining to or intended for a market niche; having specific appeal: niche advertising.
–verb (used with object) place (something) in a niche.

So that's the situation. It is conceded I am a filthy old bugger. Defense counsel so stipulates. But the art of any kind of writing is imagining the full range of interpretations that are possible given the fluidity of meaning -- and there's your postmodern moment for the day -- and deciding how whatever you write may be perceived by your intended audience, or by some portion of that audience, and then concluding if the proportion and intensity and corrosive effect of likely (or even potential) misapprehension is of sufficient size to cause concern given the parameters of the publication ....

Well, you get my point. I think the head in question is a bit of a howler. But don't go by me. I am one of those guys who prizes Chaucer for the fart jokes.


B. Lundigan said...

Dr. Robertson: I am a little disappointed that you chose this as a subject for light comment. Sexual innuendo is appropriate for the brothel or the barroom, not a blog of this statue.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

So I asked a Chronicle friend what she thought of the headline and this is her reply, discreetly buried down here in the cellar:

Any letter that has fart jokes in red sure gets my attention. But I think that if the line had been: "Marketers vie to snatch lesbian market" or "Dykes no honeypot of gold'' or "Admen miffed over missed muff market'' then I think you would have had a point.