Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Is It Meta

Although I loved it when Thom Tuck claimed that Lion King III was "the most meta thing that's ever been put in front of children", I didn't really have a clue what exactly he meant. While watching this week's University Challenge, I recalled his comment. It seemed to me that what I was seeing might be, if not meta, at least a wonderful example of life undermining art, as one contestant, despite being the only one on the panel who had actually read the work in question, had to appeal to the men around her to explain to her who wrote the book Men Explain Things to Me:

Mostly University Challenge doesn't provide anything anywhere near as amusing, let alone two laughs in one programme, but this week we also had a contestant supply the correct answer, "hoar", and then have to explain to his team mate that he wasn't being silly or applying surprising epithets to her, simply answering the question:

The more usual pleasure of the programme is that it does afford an opportunity for one's partner to demand - and for oneself in turn to demand of one's partner - recognition, if either of us manages to shout out the correct answer to a question before any of the team members do. 

For those in our household who are true blue Australians, rather than half-caste hybrids like myself, there is also the joy of pointing out how the British young don't wash their hair very often and how they also seem to delight in dressing drably. I don't encourage this sort of jeering, although the Australian side of me is unable to disagree.


  1. The early editors of Aristotle, who placed his works of speculative philosophy after the Physics, and therefore called them the Metaphysics, did no favors to those of us living around the beginning of the 21st Century.

    1. My mind remains boggled, but thank you for kindly trying to assist me in my denseness.

    2. In most cases, "meta" seems to mean "self-referential", nothing more, nothing less. Occasionally one sees a use that recalls the notion (originally Tarski's, I believe) of a "metalanguage" in which one discusses and describes an "object language; but I think these cases are rare.

      It is inconsistent in me, I guess, to dislike one free-floating preposition after all these years of hardly noticing "super" and "ultra".

    3. Perhaps it's not inconsistency but a case of tolerance being pushed too far.