Didn’t you know?
But this time it just might be! Science is cool! Cool people – with piercings and stubble and trendy haircuts are talking about it. Top comedians like Dara O’Briain (O’ Brain I say!), Ricky Gervais and the glorious Tim Minchin incorporate it into their acts for heaven’s sake: Stephen Hawking is bigger than God! (So skip the heaven bit please).
And this new exciting Golden Age of Science and the accompanying shift in the public’s attitude towards science demands a new way of addressing science – a new type of science writing.
So welcome to Bloghazard: Gonzo science writing.
For those of you not familiar with the term, ‘Gonzo’ was first applied to the journalism of Hunter S. Thompson by the editor Bill Cardoso – apparently taken from Boston Irish slang for the last survivor of an all-night piss-up* - to describe the subjective writing style Thompson developed that placed the writer ‘in’ the story, often via a first-person narrative
Gonzo was also the name of my beautiful Dalmatian who died of a particularly aggressive lymphoma that hopefully science will one day find a cure for.
Gonzwold ‘Gonzo’ the Great. 2010 RIP
Did you see what I did there?
Gonzo journalism uses the personal to give context – emotions are employed not ignored; irony, humour, hyperbole and profanity are all permissible. It does not strive for ‘polish’ it goes for ‘spit’. Gonzo brings stuff alive.
Oh yes, but isn’t science supposed to be objective, analytical, cool and aloof? Mr Spock was the Science Officer and surely wrote the book on it (no, not that Spock!). Gonzo is subjective – how can you have Gonzo science writing? Well, have a look round and see.
Let’s give Mr Spock’s nose a tweak and buy him a party popper. Don’t blind me with the science! Get down Magnus!
*Cardoso apparently also though ‘Gonzo’ was a corruption of the French/Canadian word “gonzeaux,” meaning the “shining path”, but frankly that is scary.