The term is derived from Spanish origins, and it is that characteristic which contributed most to the rise of Hemingway’s fame, and his ultimate act of self-destruction. Of bullfights, big-game hunting, reporting amidst the Spanish Civil War, leaving unmentioned his encounter with death and devastation from his experiences in World War I, resulting in the Phoenix rising through his unforgettable fictional characters, Howard Krebs and Nick Adams, whose souls have been damaged beneath the surface of any physical manifestation of wounds or injuries, where reconnection with society, its rhythms of daily living and silliness of interests, can no longer be possible — these comprise the defining events of the meaning of the word itself.
Combined with the compounding prefix, it delineates the approach of modernity in engaging in communitarian communications. You know — of bombast and lambaste; where subtlety of meaning is left without room for doubt, connotation, denotation or a question mark, but merely a hyphenated sense of an unstated thud followed by an exclamation point.
The famous debaters have now faded into the antiquity of forgotten dustbins; Lincoln-Douglas; Buckley-Vidal; the courteous but inquisitive Dick Cavett show; and the late-night show of Johnny Carson, whom many consider to encompass both intelligence and complexity of thought, especially when compared to parallelisms truncated by modernity. Civility is gone; subtlety as an art form is all but lost; the only teleology of choice these days focuses upon the viral nature of a YouTube video, and only if it trumpets the extreme with the blare of sensationalism.
This approach — of linguistic machismo — has crept into the narrative of today. Leaving aside the repugnance of the term for feminist causes, the substance of the concept implies an aggressive tone in setting forth a narrative. The problem with engaging in such a consistency of intolerance in conveying as a vehicle of communication the toughness of a “no-holds barred” language game, however, is that it soon and quickly loses its efficacy.
Even an elephant struck repetitively to move the lumbering animal will develop callouses which defy the oncoming blows of future pain; encouragement by blunt force trauma is a discouraging device over time, if used without discretion. Incessant screams become deafening to ears sensitized; physical pain becomes numb to repetition; repetition itself creates a havoc of unnoticed constructs; and so it goes.
This can be a lesson to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to construct an effective narrative in preparing one’s Statement of Disability for submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application.
When the Federal or Postal applicant for Disability Retirement purposes envisions who will be reading, reviewing and analyzing one’s Statement of Disability (as posited on SF 3112A), it is well noting that the Administrative Specialist who will be making a decision at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will have hundreds of cases to get to; and from that caricature of a singular soul peeking out from a mountain of files, the subtlety of a whispering voice immersed in truth, objectivity, and persuasive force of argumentation quietly encapsulated by law and proper documentation, will be the light which shines from the darkness of ineptitude, where even the emotionally-damaged, fictional heroes of Hemingway’s short stories may shed a tear now and again.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire