The word “netherworld” in a headline written by a colleague has interesting connotations. The word means the land of the dead, the afterlife or hell. But the word has a more metaphorical use. In this story with the headline “A trip to the weird netherworld of Tucker Max” about a man who sets out to be obnoxious and write about his misadventures, the word carried the connotation of a place between worlds. Tucker Max, the story’s subject, used the term himself to describe his state between being a “nobody and an actual celebrity.” In the headline, the word meant the odd (at least to us outside it) world of Max and his young fans. The connotation of “netherworld” as a region of shade and shadow was perfect. The land might not be what it seems, filled with people posturing and trying out identities that might not be real or permanent, testing the limits of their own society.
This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.