Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It Is What It Is

(I'm in the mood for a good full-throated rant.)

The world is infested with fatuous, empty, pointless catch-phrases. Some of them have been foisted on us by commercial interests (think: advertising). Others come from pop-culture: movies, music, late night TV shows. Still others seem to have seeped out of the memetic petri dish that is high-school.

I don't know where "It is what it is" came from, but I can assure you I don't care. All I'm really interested in is that it should sink back into the primordial ooze of idiotic tautological redundancy from which it emerged.

Could there possibly be a more vacuous phrase?

I don't think so.

But it's not enough that the sentence is a waste of the breath required to utter it. No. It is also required that the speaker be enunciating it with an air of smug spiritual superiority.

Clearly you, the lucky recipient of this gem of wisdom, are insufficiently evolved to be able to appreciate its karmic, even zenlike, essential truthfulness. You are probably distracted by transitory emotions of rage, despair, resentment, or frustration. You should probably go meditate until you are capable of repeating "It is what it is" as a veritable mantra revealing the depths of reality.

It is the jewel in the lotus, man. Om!

There was a time when hearing "It is what it is" at the poker table would instantly launch me into high orbit tilt. No longer. Now I just conjure up a mental image of the individual who emitted it strapped to a chair, being forced to listen to Deepak Chopra for all eternity. This brings a buddha's smile of ineffable delight to my lips, and all is once again right with my world.

(There, I feel better now. How about you?)

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Blogger El Forrest Gumpo said...

you are what you is?

2/27/09 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been known to use that phrase. It's sort of like when Forrest Gump says "And that's all I have to say about that". I usually utter it when there really is nothing further to discuss on the subject or we will soon beat it to death. For example, when a co-worker is rambling on and on about some policy with which he disagrees.

2/27/09 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always had the same reaction but have remained silent. Thank you for putting into words what I have long felt.

2/27/09 12:01 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Never been that big of a fan of "it is what it is" either. (Best suited for football coaches' postgame news conferences, where one hears it a lot.)

I suppose unless yr Jean-Paul Sartre, the phrase just about always seems to signal the end of dialogue, not the beginning.

2/27/09 12:15 PM  
Blogger bastinptc said...

I much prefer the preemptive "There's an eventuality to it."

2/27/09 2:04 PM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

It isn't what it isn't.

Is that better?

I agree, well written.

2/27/09 6:43 PM  
Blogger ben said...

"I don't know where "It is what it is" came from, but I can assure you I don't care."

You are a friggin' genius writer woman! LOL!

3/6/09 2:09 AM  
Blogger Rakewell said...

Interesting how close the dreaded phrase is to another more classic one: "I am that I am." But if you say that that is vapid and meaningless, you get struck by lightning and sent to hell. Or maybe visited by plagues of locusts and frogs.

5/19/09 3:37 PM  

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