Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
September 03, 2005
The jar, viewed

Isn't it weird, when one becomes sensitised to a word or phrase? Once encountered, it reappears in a variety of contexts shortly thereafter.

I'm currently experiencing this phenomenon in respect of the word 'atomised', in the context of 'an atomised society'. I am about two thirds of the way through Atomised, which our reading group will be discussing in October. The words 'atomised' and 'atomised society' keep popping up now, most recently in the context of the lawlessness and breakdown of society in New Orleans in the wake of the disaster of hurricane Katrine.

If you don't believe me, read a July 3rd article by John Harris on Live 8 which contains the following:

"...it doesn't seem entirely misplaced to see the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, far more than the original Live Aid, as the decisive harbinger of a very modern archetype: those periodic spectacles that suspend the usual rules of our atomised society, and are built around huge, emotion-strewn crowds. The big draw, it seems, is the thrilling feeling of significance."

Adam Ash also has something to say about it, as does GNN.

My direct reference, which can't find on the Internet, was a comment on BBC News yesterday about the looting in the streets of New Orleans and Bush's slow reaction to the disaster being evidence of the atomisation of society. That line of argument is partly about whether Bush would have reacted faster if the people left behind in New Orleans were WASPs rather than poor and predominantly black or elderly. (I think the answer is just that he was enjoying his month-long holiday in Texas and avoiding returning to the line of body bags coming back from Iraq, but you know the respect I have for him).

So, apart from the issue of 'atomisation' (to which I'm sure I'll return), has anybody else experinced this phenomenon of sensitisation to a word or phrase?

Posted by nathan at September 3, 2005 12:14 PM

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