May 16, 2018

Just how vogue is "just how"?

It slammed me in the face today. I was glancing at "So, Just How Violent Is Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built?" (New York Magazine) and clicked to my next tab and the first headline I saw was "Just How Fragile is Trump’s North Korea Diplomacy?" (The New Yorker).

Now, that I've noticed, I predict I will see it everywhere. I'm making a tag for it.

Why does it matter to me? Because it's a silly promise of exactitude that I know will not be met. And because it speaks of our aimless yearning for specific knowledge. I feel a little wistful about it.

Let's search Google News for some recent "just how" headlines... "Just how hot is 'hot as balls'?" Oh, well, my question is: Just how hot is 'just how'?

"Royal wedding quiz: Just how well do you know the royal family?," "Just How Much Business Can Batteries Take From Gas Peakers?," "Just How Common Is Salmonella Poisoning?," "Instagram will soon show you just how addicted you are to the app," "Just How Clean Are Pillows and Blankets On Airplanes?," "Why doesn't anyone ever tell you just how much your kids' teeth will cost you," "Just how did Matt Lauer's famous desk button work?," "Just How Catholic Is the Met's New Fashion Exhibit?," "'As it is in heaven': And just how is that?," "Just how bad is America, really?," "Just How Unethical Is Trump's Legal Team?", "This close-up of Kim shows just how much make-up you need for the Met Gala."

It is bizarre, this notion that we need to know the precise workings of the mechanism whereby Matt Lauer closed his door, that a clicked-to article could contain the tantalizing details of what it's like in Heaven, that the dirtiness of all those pillows on all those planes could be expressed with fine-grained accuracy, that the aspect of your use of Instagram that's categorizable as addiction could be rigorously quantified.

Notice how often "just how" is paired with "you" and "your." The absurdity of promise of specific knowledge is magnified by the pretense of making it information about you: your children's teeth, your addiction to Instagram, your make-up at the Met Gala, your knowledge of the royal family.

34 comments:

rehajm said...

Now, that I've noticed, I predict I will see it everywhere.

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

...and now that you know it's Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon you will see Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon everywhere.

Michael said...

A lazy writers cliche. It doesn't mean what it says. Just does not mean exactly.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"Here's what you need to know about just how vogue is 'just how'."

MadisonMan said...

Just how much do I want to comment on this?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Just how stupid is John Bolton?

Matthew Sablan said...

I just can't even all this just howing.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Just how unreasonable is AReasonableMan?

Caldwell Titcomb IV said...

Just how fake is the news we're seeing?

An Indian walks into a bar and sits down and says "How!" to the bartender, and the bartender says, "How what?" and the Indian replies "Just 'how'."

Caldwell Titcomb IV said...

And a Bud Light.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Lewis Wetzel said...
Just how wonderfully reasonable is AReasonableMan?


When, exactly, did I suggest that the Norks should follow the Libya model?

Just how stupid is John Bolton?

tcrosse said...

Just how just is justice ?

mockturtle said...

And because it speaks of our aimless yearning for specific knowledge.

It speaks more of innuendo.

Loren W Laurent said...

Just how is Tom Wolfe's demise going to affect you, Althouse?

(You ended your post yesterday with your feelings: "Such a loss!". Which felt very Trumpian, incidentally. Trump's 'Sad!' has connotations beyond monochrome sadness.)

Perhaps it will be making you half-wonder if Joan Didion is next? You wrote about Wolfe "I don't think there has been a more important writer in our lifetime." Is it time to prepare remarks for Didion? As in, maybe there hasn't been a more important female writer in our time? Would that designation diminish her?

Just how would Didion's fame have proceeded without the essay name "Slouching Towards Bethlehem"? Because the name says all you need to know, if you don't really need to know much. Which is why it is an example of the Perfect Title, of which Wolfe was a fine practitioner.

Just how would it have been better for Didion to have been lucky enough to die first?

Related: just how would Didion's obituary read if one were to never mention her as female? I don't recall seeing Wolfe being mentioned as an example of a male writer. But maybe Didion did everything that Wolfe did, but backwards and in high heels...

-LWL

SeanF said...

Michael: A lazy writers cliche. It doesn't mean what it says. Just does not mean exactly.

Actually, it means just that.

"10. exactly or precisely: This is just what I mean."

jerpod said...

Just how lame is starting a headline with, “So, “.

Ann Althouse said...

If you take up writing seriously, you may become aware of the tendency of the word "just" to want to pop up everywhere. You're probably using it in speech all the time without noticing, but by writing in a speech-based style, you see the weirdness of the "just" infection. It's rampant! Sometimes when rereading, you may decide to strike "just" 90% of the times you include it in a first draft.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

"Lewis Wetzel said...
Just how wonderfully reasonable is AReasonableMan?"

When, exactly, did I suggest that the Norks should follow the Libya model?

Non-sequitor sighted.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Only if you struggle to follow the news.

tcrosse said...

Sometimes 'just' is le mot juste.

Otto said...

I think you can substitute honestly for just . I think it is used to underline that the questioner is asking a question in earnest and wants an honest and truthful answer.

narciso said...

Robin wright, who made Hezbollah look like the totally Iranian puppet that it is, she is an authority?

Teller said...

A new addition to the click bait tackle box.

Original Mike said...

Kim has nothing to worry about. Hillary is not president.

Jim Daniels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Daniels said...

ARM: "Just how stupid is John Bolton?"

Yeah, this stupid -

• JD, Yale University Law School
• Assistant secretary for International Organization Affairs at the Dept of State
• Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs, Dept of Justice
• Assistant administrator for program and policy coordination, USAID
• General counsel, USAID
• 25th United States Ambassador to the United Nations
• 3rd Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs
• 18th Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
• Published author of three books on politics and foreign policy

What a stupid man. I've no doubt the brilliant ARM's accomplishments tower over those of Bolton's.

Ralph L said...

I haven't heard if Lauer's button locked people in (criminal?, and probably a fire code violation), or just locked them out (no interruptions). Or just scared them into not moving. Just get off your ass and try the door.

Robert Cook said...

What's frightening about John Bolton is that is not stupid, but he does appear to be a psychopath and a hater of humankind.

Caldwell Titcomb IV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caldwell Titcomb IV said...

Ann Althouse said...
If you take up writing seriously, you may become aware of the tendency of the word "just" to want to pop up everywhere.


I just noticed that the popularity of "just" doubled in just 200 years, from 1800 to 2000, its usage increasing just .025% in that time period. At that rate, in just 8,000 years, English will have just one word remaining: "just".

Original Mike said...

”What's frightening about John Bolton is that is not stupid, but he does appear to be a psychopath and a hater of humankind.”

Because he’s not naive? Good grief.

William Chadwick said...

"What's frightening about John Bolton is that is not stupid, but he does appear to be a psychopath and a hater of humankind."

Could you give some examples or evidence of that? To me anyone like you whose a big supporter of the State (the all-time champion murderer and looter) shouldn't accuse anyone else of hating humankind.

JaimeRoberto said...

Just how annoying are these kinds of headlines? #5 will shock you.

wildswan said...

Just how often can you answer a "just how" question with "just howl?" You can answer a just how question with just howl just as often as a just how question is just a just howl. Or in other words, just as often as it's just a TDSer, flung from a news story slingshot and flying and screeching just about Trump.

Syem Park said...

Semoga artikel ini bermanfaat untuk anda

CHLOROFORM DI PAPUA
CHLOROPHYLL DI PAPUA
LIQUID DI PAPUA
TRIVAM DI PAPUA
SLEEPING BEAUTY DI PAPUA 
CHLOROFORM DI JAKARTA
CHLOROPHYLL DI JAKARTA
LIQUID DI JAKARTA
TRIVAM DI JAKARTA
SLEELPING BEAUTY DI JAKARTA