And what would that say?
Monday, August 31, 2015
"The Likes Of"--Any hope of banning "the likes of" from print or the Internet as a tribute to Oliver Sacks?
For a long time I have been sickened by uses of "the likes of" because of the contempt it shows for anything unique in the people being lumped together. I keep thinking of "the likes of Jay Leyda," "the likes of Maurice Sendak." Sure! This week,with the death of Oliver Sacks, is a good time to expose the laziness and stupidity of "the likes of." Now, I can imagine, almost, a situation where you had a dozen absolutely commonplace practitioners of the New Criticism or Deconstruction or the New Historicism, for a few examples, and wanted to show your contempt for their utter lack of originality by saying "the likes of," but you would want to be certain that they really were, say, repeating the same banalities, quoting only the same phrases from a master or from each other: the burden would be on you to demonstrate their dull repetition of the same conventionalities. Better to take the humane view of human life that Sacks shows: "There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death."