Quotes: Meaningless Meaningful Words

Jerry: So Kramer, what are you going to do now?
Kramer: Do? Do? I'm doing what I do! I've always done what I do. Just doin' what I do. The way I've always done it. And the way I'll always do it.
George: Kramer... what the hell are you talking about?
Seinfeld Season 4 Episode 2 The Trip Part 2

When philosophers use a word — 'knowledge', 'being', 'object', 'I', 'proposition', 'name' — and try to grasp the essence of the thing, one must always ask oneself: is the word ever actually used in this way in the language-game which is its original home? — What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.

The key words in this kind of writing are 'death', 'life', 'birth', 'sun', 'moon', 'womb', 'cosmic' and 'catastrophe', and by free use of them the most banal statement can be made to sound picturesque, while what is outright meaningless can be given an air of mystery and profundity. Even the title of this book, 'The Cosmological Eye', doesn't actually mean anything, but it sounds as though it ought to mean something.
George Orwell, review of The Cosmological Eye by Henry Miller

They talk. They speak as only the French can speak, as if it is not enough for a concept to be difficult, it must be impenetrable. No two real people in the history of mankind have ever spoken like this, save perhaps for some of [Director] Catherine Breillat’s friends that even she gets bored by. 'Your words are inept reproaches,' they say, 'and I bless the day I was made immune to you and all your kind.'

I hope that someday I can sick burn my girlfriend by telling her 'Well I guess you’re the Native American trickster spirit.' Drop the mic, I’m out.
Chris Sims and Matt Wilson on X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Bruce says he's spent his entire life trying to defeat death, but unfortunately, 'I can't save you.' Then he adds, 'And with great power comes great responsibility. Oh, wait, wrong movie.' Alfred, probably feeling the effects of his Movie Illness, lets off a total stream of non sequiters about how there's 'no defeat in death' because 'victory comes in defending what we know is right while we still live!' (Translation pending.)

[Terrence] Dicks and [Barry] Letts love a good moral. They develop patrician characters just so they can have people to say morals for them... so you'll get something like a character believing he is imminently going to die drunkenly trying to rape people, because it's dramatic to watch that, and Corrie isn't on 24/7. And you'll get the square-jawed commander decking him, because rape is bad. The only thing you won't get is anything resembling a human concern with the survivor, because she is neither an easily digestible moral statement nor a case of high human drama... Instead the episode just ends with Michael Gough intoning that a man can make a mistake, but mankind must never make one. Which is fairly typical — instead of looking at the material conditions of an ethical or political problem, Letts and Dicks would prefer to craft a slogan, give it to a good actor to say in a serious voice, and leave it at that. See, you can make a mistake like raping someone, just so long as you oppose pollution.
Dr. Phil Sandifer on Moonbase 3

‘Your lying is on record, Agent Scully!’ ‘And what about yours?’ ‘As you compound the lies, you compound the consequences for them!’ ‘All lies lead to the truth, isn’t that right?’ ‘And what about your lie, Agent Scully? What does that lead to?’ ‘The Truth!’ – at this point I think that [Chris] Carter is so used to the words ‘Lies’ and ‘Truth’ that he just has his characters repeat them ad nauseum until it sounds like something profound is happening. This is a particularly horrendous example. Even Gillian Anderson looks humiliated.
Joe Ford on The X-Files, "Redux"

Just about every square inch of dialogue was terrible. The engagement party was painful to sit through; everyone was speaking in platitudes (and just a note, when one character turns to another and says, "Well said" that's just the writer patting herself on the back a bit too much. It wasn't that good a line Genevieve.)
Julian Finn on Smallville, "Icarus"

See, in the end, all we can do is look at where we are, and where we're standing, and say we will not allow this here. Over there has to stand for itself, has to speak for itself. Because it's only when over there becomes over here that we can stop this once and for all. And from now on, my eye will be right here.
Superman, Superman: Grounded (#701)

WHAT IS THAT LUNATIC TALKING ABOUT? He’s arbitrarily chosen this neighborhood to keep an eye on, but the next neighborhood, well, it’s just up a creek. That neighborhood has to 'stand for itself.' What? How hard would it really be for Superman to, say, keep an eye on both neighborhoods?...Read that sentence again. It means nothing.

[on characterizing Ozpin] "I just made up the most nonsensical bullshit I could and took a step back and was like… Yeah, that’s it. That’s something this f-er would say."
— Fanfiction author xekstrin

As a teenager [Marcus] Borg lost his faith in God, Christ, and the Bible. But a few years after graduating from seminary, he had a number of mystical experiences which gave him a new concept of God. He says, "I realized that God does not refer to a supernatural being ‘out there’ . . . . Rather God refers to the sacred at the center of existence, the holy mystery that is all around and within us." Now if you intone these words the right way, they might sound very meaningful and profound. But really this is pretty thin soup as an understanding of God. What does Borg mean when he says, "God is more than everything and yet everything is in God"?