Thursday, 10 November 2011

"Medieval" my foot: a rant.

You know what really irks me? What really gets under my skin? When people can't be bothered to think about the words they're using. Most specifically (and thoroughly unsurprising), for me, it's the improper use of the word "medieval". It's a word near an dear to my heart.

So that said, what's got me rolling is this paragraph from an article linked to today by

It's a blog post called "Medieval Marketing" by a fellow named Grant McCracken, a research affiliate at MIT, and the author of a book called Chief Culture Officer. The problem with this article isn't that it's wrong. That I really can't say. Mostly, I think the article was about modern advertising techniques. Or perhaps post-modern ones. Past "form follows function" to the enticement of a mystery. Lovely.

But as far as I can tell, it's got nothing to do with the medieval. The only place the word even shows up, apart from the title, is in this paragraph:

The medieval world took for granted that the universe was filled with secret messages, placed there by God and the correspondences on which the world was built. What did not come from God or nature was made by man in the form of emblems, icons, and insignia insinuated into public life. The home of Sir Francis Bacon was covered with arcana. Only people with a keen eye and a university education could make sense of it.

Take note of those links in there, too. I preserved them just for you. Have you looked? Do you know what I'm going to say next? Please, allow me:

Elizabeth I was not medieval. Sir Francis EXPLETIVE Bacon WAS NOT MEDIEVAL. A book called "The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-page in England, 1550-1660" is not nor cannot be in ANY WAY ABOUT THE MEDIEVAL because one of the ways we've decided where the modern era begins is WITH INVENTION OF THE EXPLETIVE EXPLETIVE PRINTING PRESS.

deep breath

Look, I don't know if this guy's ideas are valid. The ones about marketing and culture probably are. But come the heck on: if you can't use the word "medieval" right, just leave it to the experts, will you? And please, leave the Dan Brown schlock out of it too. Sub Rosa my ass.

This rant has been brought to you by the Foundation for Stress-Free Graduate Students, the letter 3 and the number Q.


batfishld said...


Curt Emanuel said...

My favorite has always been people talking about Medieval Torture, then describing punishments which came into being during the Early-Modern Period.

This site is the most comprehensive torture site I've found and it's actually pretty good from what I can see (I'm far from an expert on this). The problem is, many if not most of the devices are first recorded in use after 1500 and many of the others are first found very late in the Medieval period and were mainly used later. Oh well.

Jackson Crawford said...

Almost as bad as when someone hears that you do Old English, and says not just "Oh, I like Shakespeare, too," but "Oh, I liketh Shakespeare, too."