October 03, 2004

Deep Thoughts

In response to one of Confidence Man's earlier posts, I want to follow up what appears to be a recent grammatical development. In the story on Kenneth Starr becoming a lawyer for the New York Times to defend them in a First Amendment case, one reads:

Mr. Starr makes an "interesting" but natural choice for the case, said Tom
Goldstein, a lawyer in Washington who specializes in litigating before the
Supreme Court. He called Mr. Starr "a deep think kind of guy...."
Now this phrase "deep think" I've heard in a slightly different form from my Vice-Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies. She gets groups of faculty together to put together what she terms "Big Think" projects.

There may be a common genealogy to this nouning of "think," but it has some disturbing implications. To say not that Starr is a deep thinker but that he is a deep think guy, and to say that we are not going to think big in our attempts to move the University into its next evolutionary stage but instead we are going to come up with (what everyone else will presumably recognize as) a big think seems to me to outsource thinking to somewhere. I'm not sure where.

No comments: