How 'disgusting' maintains the hegemony of 'modernity'

Originally "disgust" was used to express distaste for rotten food or filth. Today it's deployed against looters, phone hackers and others whose actions many find morally murky. So how did the meaning change so much? - bbc: Disgust: How did the word change so completely?

The frequency of the use of the word 'disgusting' can, amongst other things, indicate the contraction of mass vocabulary.  Also, it might also reveal a common penchant to value things on a personal, rather than an objective level.  In other words, how does it ‘feel’ to you, not what it’s significance is when overarching and related variables are considered.  In that, it is not unlike the too oft-used, ‘cool’, ‘weird’, etc.  

Either way, this can be seen as a realisation of the Orwellian ‘newspeak’ in thought and word.


Historically, ‘disgusting’ was used to refer to one’s reaction toward food/smells one might deem distasteful.  In other words, one’s personal feelings toward particular tastes and smells.  It is purely subjective, at most times that is.

However, at some point in the past, this word saw an increasing application in non-food/smell events.  At this time, there would have been a common awareness that the word, ‘disgusting’, that was supposed to be for food/smell usage was now being applied to non food/smell item.  This is significant as people would be aware of this cross-application and its original and intended locale of application.  But they went ahead anyway.

What is significant about this is that people did not deem it inappropriate to be subjective about things in their usage of ‘disgusting’ for other events.  You could say that it was an encroachment of the subjective on the reality.  Of course, these days, most aren’t aware of the original meaning of the word, so we aren’t being willfully subjective in applying this word in non-food/smells events.  But the point is, when the word was willfully applied to non-food/smell events in the past even whilst consciously knowing that it was to be applied to subjective food/smell events, what was passed on to future generations was that it was alright to be subjective about things and confuse it for being objective.  That its alright to judge the value of a thing on the basis of how we feel about it rather than allowing our feelings to be determined post-consideration of all related variables. 

You could say, that in the historical assault on the masses ability to think objectively, this amongst a host of others, is one of its milestones.

One ‘feels’ with the system as one is unable to see beyond its boundaries. That is when one become an emotive and organic component of it enough to just feel whatever ‘disgust’ it takes to maintain the system. Finally, the increasing usage of subjective words to express subjective feelings (as opposed to objective) in social events indicates the degree to which the overarching status quo has been taken as the norm/natural/given; and the associated morals and compensatory devices that delivers a goodness-of-fit between one’s identity and the system taken as norm/natural/given.  It indicates the incorporation of the self into an overarching systemic scheme of things to the point that one can feel subjectively against something without considering if it is scientifically decipherable and objectively understandable.

It simply means that one can condemn something with nothing more than a word, or at best, a subjective ‘analysis’, and think one right.  One ‘feels’ with the system as one is unable to see beyond its boundaries.  That is when one become an emotive and organic component of it enough to just feel whatever ‘disgust’ it takes to maintain the system.  Just like how the human body might feel ‘disgust’ in the face of certain poisonous foods to reflexively and thoughtlessly reject it.  Objectively’s got nothing to do with it.  One has internalised the morals and principles required to maintain the system as it is, and hence come in subjective words to reflexively reject anything that threatens it as evil, terroristic, weird, bullshit, crap, psychobabble, etc, etc, etc.


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