Lost Performatives (Meta-Model)

Lost performatives make a rule without anybody having responsibility for it. If a girl gets a cut on her face, and a nurse says, “Now you’ll never win a beauty pageant,” then you have a kind of cloud of lost performatives. One is that she should care about winning beauty pageants. 

Another is the implication, not a direct statement, but the implication that people will think she is ugly for the rest of her life. 

Another is in the nurse’s tone of voice, which is telling the girl that it is her fault. You had to be there to hear that part. If you consider the culture of the region where this happened, it is also connected with the idea that she won’t find a man to love her. Let’s just take the main one, which is that she should care about winning beauty pageants. You might respond to that with, “You idiot, she’s just an impressionable, vulnerable, wonderful, young girl with infinite potential, and she’s too bright to waste her time running around with bimbos who try to be beauty queens. I’m going to get your fired for being such a twisted human being.” But that’s pretty confrontative. How about this one: “Who is it who thinks she should care about winning beauty pageants?”