Friday, May 1, 2009

Two Sides to the Same Coin.

Was writing a line of poetry and needed a word that meant the opposite of outlaw. And I Has our language really created the space where outlaw and in-law work as each other's inverse?

Of course, in terms of inclusion/exclusion from community in a broad sense, they do work that way.

But it's hard for me to imagine the other side of my mother-in-law's coin as Jesse James.

Or, maybe, that's right on the money.


  1. Except that the trope usually works the other way, right? Jesse James is usually more like the stereotypical mother in law than the opposite of her. Both are depicted as not respecting domestic settlements. Both are depicted as interested in lording power.

    That being said, my mother in law is actually quite lovely.

  2. Well, that's interesting to think about. I think about one as chaotic and one as rigid, I guess. One as bucking-the-law, and one as enforcing it, even extending it. One as marginal, and one as hyper-entrenched.

    But maybe that's just me. Certainly, they are both (stereotypically) models of control, in their own ways.

    My MIL is also lovely, at 93. But Jesse James, she is not. She would find him intolerable.

  3. And while the thesaurus will give you (literally) pages of synonyms for “outlaw,” the lexicon of virtue is pretty freakin’ slim.

  4. Interesting, Anonymous. I hadn't thought of that.

    My MIL is also easygoing. She came from a string of silver miners. Her father was outlaw-ish, some of her relatives, too. She's not an outlaw, but certainly not a model of control. In other words, not a cliché.

    It's good brain exercise to think inside of, and outside of, these terms.

  5. I like the words that don't appear to have direct parallels. There are so many, but for some reason the only one that springs to mind is toward/untoward