Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How Raw Can You Get?

My new friend (as Facebook calculates time) Tabitha Plueddemann e-mailed me today with some thoughts about a writing project we've been discussing. In it she very creatively subdivided the literary quality of "raw." Before I share her continuum I'll give you a minute to define for yourself what "raw" means literarily.

Whenever you're ready . . .

OK. Time's up; pencils down. Here are the two subcategories Tabitha laid out for me:

* raw in the sense of a garden salad
* [raw] in the sense of a bloody shank of pork impaled on a hook and coated with flies

First of all, hilarious. Second of all, I find it interesting to think about raw in a countercultural sense. I've been conditioned, I think, to associate the term "raw" with the bloody-shank-of-pork end of Tabitha's continuum. I've also been conditioned to count "raw" as somehow "more true, more culturally resonant." The Zeitgeist, if I'm using that word properly, hovers somewhere over that end; as evidence I point to the return to TV of "Dexter," everybody's favorite, lovable serial killer. I'm told that the show "Prison Break" this season will take place in a third-world prison camp where inmates are groomed for violence and fed nothing but uncooked meat--"raw" in more than one sense.

But the ingredients of a typical salad are no less raw than the bacon you would never deign to eat, and you can make a decent meal of it. I'm reminded of the song of a few years back "Pretty Good Day," just a shiny happy song daring to be naively innocent in a harsh, jaded world--"raw" in its most countercultural sense.

So I'd be interested in hearing where people fall on this continuum when it comes to your consumption of culture. What qualifies a song or a story or a testimony as "raw"? What are you seeing that crosses a line "good" raw to either, on the one end, salacious spectacle or, on the other end, pollyanic naivete?

2 comments:

Web said...

When I hear the term "raw" I tend to think of Eddie Murphy back in the day when he was doing stand-up. The material he did was extremely raw (and yes he had a show called "Raw") - meaning his material was, in most cases, very offensive (but funny nonetheless) because he didn't color it with any political-correct-fluff.

So raw to me is uncut and pure to the core. No additives or preservatives here.

bob/serpentuh said...

My first thought for "raw" is the bloody shank of meat.

For any other instances I think of "raw" as something existing in it's natural state. Something that has not been processed.

The TRUE meaning, however, is Monday Night RAW from the WWE.
(Does Hulk Hogan still wrestle?)

Bobby