Favorite

Hello Dali 

"Twelve hours after Doe's death, Capt. Richard Roe and firefighter Sam Smith sat quietly in Station 4, watching the news on TV. It's not often that their department makes the news. For it to be for something tragic like this, involving firefighters they work closely with and with whom they share notes between shifts, the two said, was surreal."

I wonder if surreal was the firemen's word or the reporter's. Well, maybe we shouldn't be surprised to find surreal in the firehouse; it's everywhere else. ("That touchdown pass was surreal. No, these fries are what's surreal.") Looking up surreal in the on-line Merriam Webster, I came across a comment: "One of the most overused and misused words of the last decade."

MW defines surreal as "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream; also 'unbelievable,' 'fantastic'." Nowadays, surreal also means "unusual" and either "pretty good" or "pretty bad," depending on the situation.

Surreal first came into use in the art world in the 1930s. The adjective was derived from the noun surrealism, which Random House says is "a style of art and literature developed principally in the 20th century, stressing the subconscious or nonrational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects, unexpected juxtapositions, etc." I had all that until the "etc." Seeking elaboration, I appealed to a higher authority, the Arkansas Times' art critic, Leslie Peacock. It's surreal how much she knows about the art stuff. She writes: "Salvador Dali is surreal, and so are Yves Tanguay and Max Ernst and Paul Delvaux. Andre Breton said it was to 'resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality,' which I guess means that surrealists paint dream-like scenes with the same technique they would use to paint your portrait, for example — realistically — but altered. Like your nose might be melting down your face, for example. But when teen-agers say surreal, they mean 'unexpected.' "

My nose melting down my face? Maybe she knows too much.

Long may she rein:

" 'I'm a good age for a marathoner,' Legstrong, 33, said. 'It's easy to get caught up in it. ... I need to reign it in a little, but I'm on a roll right now.' "

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Now, the main event

    • Good article and an accurate observation of the inconsistencies in Gov. Asa Hutchinson's words and…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: Flooding the swamp

    • Nations who negotiate sweet deals with the US pharmaceutical companies are only able to do…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: Like wrestling

    • Trump's policies to help a financially failing US Postal Service are nothing compared to the…

    • on May 24, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation