Saturday, July 2, 2011

Epic Pancakes

As with the word "awesome"  in the late 20th century, the ever more ubiquitous "dude-bro" demographic, within the last decade, has commandeered and eviscerated the once sacrosanct term "epic."  No longer is an epic merely the historical noun of choice for lengthy, heroic, poetic compositions like The Odyssey,  The Iliad, and various Bibles which, before the advent of printing, offered historical and cultural continuity from one generation to the next via ritual re-tellings of the epics, narrated in the grandiose style befitting its lofty subject matter.  No longer is epic in its adjective form limited to classifying these chronicles of great achievements and events, long wars and  harrowing voyages so vast, heroic, majestic, and impressive in stature as to transfix and strike awe in the listener and allow them to forget, if only for a moment, the Black Death, slavery, and the notoriously ruthless medieval meter maids.
"Dude, I know these sirens are, like, sweet tail with epic racks and all, and, like, they sing mighty righteous tunes but they are some mad crazy ho's! Row, bro, row!"
Where once the epic narrative poem Beowulf would be told aloud, often from memory around medieval campfires, in modern times, specifically this morning at the Green Bean in Northampton, I overheard this exchange: "Bro, these are epic pancakes."  "Dude, with maple syrup and bluebs they're mad epic." Indeed, in the ancient tradition of passing epic stories along to keep them alive, one of the apparently very satisfied diners fired off a text undoubtedly notifying another dude-bro from his posse of this very same superlative assessment of breakfast.

The English language is fluid. Meanings for words change all the time. (Though adding "ginormous" to the dictionary was irresponsible, redundant, and, well, cutesy.)  But is there really so little in the imagination and dreams of some people that they have to rob those of us with grander schemes of the long established terminology? They're using a sledgehammer to drive a brad into balsa.

In the big picture, one hopes, but it certainly isn't assured, that the classic epic poems will continue to be integral to the class syllabi of our secondary school and college English programs, serving up in history's earliest recorded incidents, the original dudes and bros, virgins and of hos,  to experience life's archetypal story arcs (also evidenced in most episodes of VH-1's Behind The Music): Life-Death-Rebirth. Or, if discussing over some tasty flapjacks; an epic win is usually followed by an epic fail and then a less epic (but still awesome in a mellower way) win, or  in the most epic of fails, death i.e Andy Gibb, Odysseus, et al.

One of the earliest known examples of a member of the phylum Homeyus-Dudebroticus from approx. 1982, native to Southern California but now prospering nationwide.

1 comment:

Jane said...

I like your blog. Please keep posting. I'm shocked that there are practically no public forums or blogs about Northampton. For a city with so many people, I find myself asking, "Where are all the people?" I guess if I want to talk to people in this city I'm going to have to sit on a street corner downtown and shout at them as they walk by.