Alan Glynn on words as self-deluding weapons, plus a question for readers
Glynn is alert to the ominous vogue uses of conversation and narrative, especially by corporations and politicians. But even the good guys in his books slip into jargon of their own, which adds to his novels' all-embracing sense of dread. Here's the crusading reporter Ellen Dorsey in his new novel, Graveland, (emphasis mine):
"Walking back to her apartment, she decides that with the lack of any intel on the perps, the only other likely route into the story is through the vics."Perps is probably widespread enough in American usage (Graveland is set in New York) by now to have been stripped of whatever moral weight it may once have carried, and I'm not sure vics (for victims) is real slang. But intel is real, as fraught with self-importance and grandiosity as good, ominous slang ought to be. (A good test for a buzzword's bullshit quotient is how easily it can be replaced with an ordinary word. In this case, intel says nothing information would not. Its bullshit score is therefore 100.)
- Friend modified by a person's name, e.g., a Clinton friend. Calls attention to the clubbiness of America's controlling elites, which might be good news except that reporters embraced the construction wholeheartedly. A (fill in the name) friend may a uniquely American construction. No one in the UK would see the need to call a prime minister's associate a Cameron friend because everyone would take for granted that, having gone to the same public schools before going on to Oxford or Cambridge, of course they were friends.
- Conversation, as a neat catch-all for the vast, messy sprawl of opinions, verbal ejaculations, and seeming irrelevancies on a given subject, with the implication that the mess can be tidied up and manipulated. Trust no one who invites you to be part of the conversation, much less, as one of Glynn's characters does in Bloodland, to "change the conversation."