“It’s our predicament, at this time and at our age, to avoid saying the grand thing—to be scared of it, or to say it and then, in the very next moment, undercut ourselves, want to take it all back, dial it down, turn it into a big joke. This habit of mind started from a good place. You can trace it back to what we’re taught in college: be skeptical of capital-T Truth, look suspiciously at all-encompassing explanations. But it’s gotten out of hand. You hear it in conversation. Someone risks something, some idea they have, something they’re struggling to give words to, and how do they follow it up? They disassociate themselves from it. They say, But what do I know, right? Even about stupid stuff, like an opinion of a new movie. You can see it, too, in the profusion of phrases like sort of and kind of. People take shelter under words like maybe and probably when they could, by rights, insist and declare. On sitcoms, the most earnest character will always, immediately, be cut down in the next moment. It’s the dance move of our time, that little two-step. I struggle with it myself, all the time.” —Paul Maliszewski

“It’s our predicament, at this time and at our age, to avoid saying the grand thing—to be scared of it, or to say it and then, in the very next moment, undercut ourselves, want to take it all back, dial it down, turn it into a big joke. This habit of mind started from a good place. You can trace it back to what we’re taught in college: be skeptical of capital-T Truth, look suspiciously at all-encompassing explanations. But it’s gotten out of hand. You hear it in conversation. Someone risks something, some idea they have, something they’re struggling to give words to, and how do they follow it up? They disassociate themselves from it. They say, But what do I know, right? Even about stupid stuff, like an opinion of a new movie. You can see it, too, in the profusion of phrases like sort of and kind of. People take shelter under words like maybe and probably when they could, by rights, insist and declare. On sitcoms, the most earnest character will always, immediately, be cut down in the next moment. It’s the dance move of our time, that little two-step. I struggle with it myself, all the time.” —Paul Maliszewski

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    I realize now I did this constantly in my lecture tonight.
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