While away at a convention this week, my husband and I sat with one of his colleagues, who related in a hilarious way his reactions to his daughter's pet hedgehog. The daughter received it as a gift while away at university, and when she returned home for the summer, she brought it with her. Its name was Lionel Pritchie, but our friend had independently re-dubbed it "Sir Stinksalot." He was angry at Beatrix Potter, he said, because he expected Lionel to arrive with a vest and a pocket watch, not stinking up the house and keeping the family awake with its nocturnal behaviour. In short: don't get a hedgehog as a pet.
This seems rather obvious to me, seeing as it's a rodent. Rodent? Bringing it in my home? Yes, seems obvious.
This gentleman clearly loves to entertain with his wit, because he kept us laughing all evening. I love situations like that; when someone else will entertain the whole table. It takes the pressure off the rest of us.
That being said, I'm always a little uncertain about someone who doesn't have an "off switch." You know what I mean: someone who can't ever be serious for a minute. I always wonder why that is. What are they hiding? Is everything a joke to them, or are they just deep down, shy?
The same goes for those who present truth in continually "in your face" way. They are the wise-cracking, exaggerating, shoot from the hip type who never seem to write one word that isn't couched in some sort of analogy designed to inspire rage, laughter, or disgust. I think it's the exaggeration that always attracts my attention the most. Rather than saying, for example, "You may find this hard to believe," they will find other means such as, "Now, this may cause your head to explode, thus spattering your grey matter all over the walls..."
Please don't misunderstand me; I don't mean verbal devices should never be used. They often add colour and power to our words, but it needs to be done in a subtle way, carefully, and in small doses.
Too many use it to the point of overkill. At some point, I think the truth has to be presented as the truth. Sometimes, the exaggeration or shock type language has to be put aside, and the truth needs to speak for itself. The danger of the shock type of language is that it can come across as being obnoxious.
Unfortunately, if one expresses a concern about this, the response is inevitably "I'm sick of the political correctness. You just can't handle the truth," at which point we're supposed to hear this spoken in Jack Nicholson's voice. The problem becomes ours; we are not tough enough to hear their words. It may be true that we just can't stand it, but it can also be that they are actually being careless and irresponsible with their words.
Yes, that kind of writing is a stylistic thing. Guys like Carl Trueman do it all the time. The thing is, Mr. Trueman never comes across as raging; some of these other types do. Not everyone can be like Trueman, and when some try, they look pretty silly. I find that many of these users of shock type language believe that if they speak in increasingly hard or extreme terms, people will be conviced. Not necessarily. Often, it just makes people stop listening.
In the same way that I find the perpetual clown type a little alarming, I also find the one who presents truth with a constant stream of "in your face" dialogue a little bothersome. I want to ask those people, "Where is your off switch?"
It's probably just a bit of a personal thing, I understand. But seriously, truth served in a calm, dispassionate way never goes out fashion.