Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Great Millennial Oxymoron

I began thinking about Millennial oxymorons while writing my post on the marketing of strawberry ice cream, where I mentioned a few of them.  Here's a list of paradoxical expressions.  Surely it is a sign of the times, of the struggles between opposites: the real and virtual, the old and the new, the local and the global.  Many of these examples come from online socializing, economics, marketing, militarism, trade, politics and globalization; and from areas where the impacts of globalization combine first with the Technological Revolution.  Entire sites are devoted to oxymorons here and here, which show how confused and conflicted our times are.  A lot of these expressions involve qualifying something by juxtaposing it with its opposite characteristic.  Millennial sensibilities seek an unspoken middle ground by mentioning contending extremes in the same breath.  It again shows Orwell's brilliance in imagining a future society, which was based on lies claimed as truths, in Nineteen Eighty-Four.  A list, from hundreds of expressions that are common right now:
  • History of the future
  • 'Real' estate
  • Tax return
  • All or nothing
  • Good is evil and evil is good
  • Organic produce
  • Retro-futuristic
  • Social networking
  • Dying is a part of life
  • Graduate student
  • Shabby chic
  • Unemployment benefit
  • Global village
  • Credit management
  • Semiretired
  • Definitely maybe
  • Reverse mortgage loan (aka Home equity conversion mortgage)
  • Safe sex
  • Rules of war
  • Cruel to be kind
  • Strangely familiar
  • Casual sex
  • Arrested development
  • Wireless cable
  • Science fiction
  • Hearts and minds
  • Clean hack
  • Savings and loan
  • Preventable death
  • Green manufacturing
  • Disposable income
  • Bittersweet
  • Tragi-comedy
  • Sight unseen
  • Consumer durables
  • Approach avoidance
  • Peaceful protests
  • Thinking out loud
  • Assisted suicide
  • Backwards compatibility
  • Finally again
  • Accelerated decrepitude
  • Fictional reality
  • True lies
  • Retroactive continuity
  • Based on a true story
  • Constructive criticism
  • Planned obsolescence
  • Mass customization
  • Known covert operation
  • Friends with benefits
  • More or less
  • The long and the short of it
  • Loose ends
  • On-Off relationship
  • Life after death
  • Love-Hate relationship
  • Delayed response
  • Lightweight
  • Instant classic
  • Guaranteed forecast
  • Scientific belief
  • Fallout shelter
  • Rent to own (Rental purchase)
  • Peacekeeping force
  • Voluntary regulation
  • Constant change
  • Relationship closure
  • Business casual
  • Rent free
  • Going nowhere
  • Awfully (or terribly) nice
  • Extended deadline
  • Shared experience
  • The future is today (or now)
  • Profligately destitute
  • Subliminal advertising
  • Initial conclusion
  • Guerilla marketing
  • Niche market
  • Deficit spending
  • Real fake
  • Genuine imitation
  • Convergent evolution
  • Half naked
  • Click the start button to shut down
  • Benign neglect
  • Negative equity
  • Corporate culture
  • Fusion culture
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Harmless lie
  • Cyberspace
  • Passive aggressive
  • Short term memory
  • Hopelessly optimistic
  • No comment
  • Dynamic stability
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Virtual reality
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Interest free loan
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Freedom is slavery
  • Nothing much
  • Negative growth
  • Direct circumvention
  • Non-denominational church
  • Identity theft
  • Knowing someone by their online persona
  • Calculated risk
  • Internet security
  • Eyes wide shut
  • Work spouse (office husband or office wife)
  • Young adult
  • Zero deficit
  • Fairly accurate
  • Unpaid interns replace laid off paid workers
  • Diminishing growth
  • Stagnant growth
  • Old news
  • Avatar identity
  • Conventional wisdom
  • Agree to disagree
  • Artificial intelligence


  1. I'm not sure that 'safe sex' and 'casual sex' are oxymorons unless you start from the assumptions that 'safe' and 'casual' are absolute rather than relative. For the same reason, 'fairly accurate' is merely poor English, since accuracy is something that not only exists in degrees but in some fields is quantifiable.
    Something to which we should pay more attention is 'consumer durables', which should make us (or more specifically economists) reevaluate what we mean by consumption as much as what we mean by durability. How do recycling, repurposing and secondary marketing figure into the definition of durable goods? If we don't quantify potential aftermarket material values, are we consciously consigning legal behaviors to black market status?

  2. One of the sites I looked at for this post categorized oxymorons, demonstrating that some are obvious oxymorons, some are just poor English, some depend on the nuances of contemporary meaning. The consumer durable has two oxymoronic nuances, one derived from the fact that something made to be consumed is not made to endure; and the other derived from the problem of planned obsolescence. I don't think recycling and similar repurposing activities are factors in the thinking here, unless you consider that they add another layer of irony to oxymoronic expression. That is, something made to break actually does endure, is in fact durable, but only because it is repurposed as something else (like pop cans made into material to make a dress (something I have actually seen), or something equally bizarre).

  3. Maybe we could solve the problem of nuclear waste storage by marketing it as a futures investment. I can't honestly foresee when someone would want to buy it off the investor, but they'd never have to worry about its long term viability. It would bring a whole new meaning to 'consumer durable' since, in this case, the 'durable' might just 'consume' the nominal 'consumer' as well.

  4. *Laughing* I'm sure it will be a hot commodity in 500 years.