A Little Somethin’ Somethin’

Sex. Drugs. (God. Death.) There’s something about the saying of “something” that goes beyond mere euphemism. Today, KtB editor Alex Rose, after diligent research, gets into the nitty gritty of  the “something” exchanged between the sheets and into the bloodstreams of broken bodies in “Safe to Say” on Obit, the online magazine on life, death and transition. Here’s a taste:

A very literal signifier, “condom” calls to mind the awkwardness of its application, the rubbery squeaks and cold spermicidal goo and pinched embrace—very little is left to the imagination. “Something,” by contrast, is diffuse, discreet, vague, seductive.  It carries none of the “on-the-dot” associations we can’t help but link with the object.  In fact, “something” may be the ultimate indefinite; what else could it indicate other than lack of specificity?  Placed in a sexual context, however, the euphemism serves a telling purpose, which we might dub “erotic self-effacement.” One term is swapped for another to empty the pedestrian concept of its connotations and overlay it with a fresh veneer of mystery.

Read the whole piece here.

Meera Subramanian is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about the environment and culture for Nature, InsideClimate News, Virginia Quarterly Review, Orion, and others. Her first book is A River Runs Again: A Natural History of India from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka (PublicAffairs, 2015). Visit her at meerasub.org.