© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.
Some questions on usage spring to mind as one reads the daily newspaper. Not long ago I read the lead, “The career of iconic beat writer William Burroughs…”
This violated two important style conventions of time past. The major one was elimination of the middle initial. This has become common as has the omission of middle names that identify individuals who went by those names. Per example: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Cullen Bryant. I, myself, use a middle initial in financial matters to distinguish me from a second cousin—of course to the government I am xxx-xx-xxxx. But Burroughs wrote as William S. Burroughs. I am just damn picky.
Okay. Now to “iconic,” one of two adjectives that hit my button. If you have ever seen Eastern Orthodox art, you have a good idea what an icon is. There are specific conventions in icons, specific hand positions and colors of clothing. You will generally find no statues in Orthodox churches—I have seen an occasional crucifix, but the statues of Santos we get out and parade at fiesta no. Things are changing and it’s been 10 years since my flirtation with the east, so I used the term generally. Icons are two-dimensional. They are written, not drawn. Burroughs would hardly be a subject for an icon in any church I have set foot in. And as I recall seeing him on occasions, he was three-dimensional.
In the advertising section as well as the retail sector, the word “legendary” is used to describe proprietary branded clothing. I had always thought of the gods of the north as legendary, Odin of the many aliases, Frigg the consort of Odin, Freyja of the Vanir (goddess of beauty and gore), Thor of the barrel chest and stocky build (take that, Marvel Comics). Or the heroic west, Hickock, Earp, James, all more legend than reality. Calling Chinese clothing which is sold by two or three retail/catalog outfits—same item, different proprietary names is what we called “puffery” back when I was in the ad biz. There are legendary brands of clothing such as Brooks Brothers, Levis, Stetson; those brands date from the nineteenth century and stood on their own as brands the country grew up with.
By overuse the term legendary has become meaningless. By misuse the term iconic has lost all meaning.
Is loboviejo iconic or legendary? Hell no!