Perish Podsnappish Predilections

On Bullshit
There! I said it.

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit,” Harry G. Frankfurt writes, in what must surely be the most eyebrow-raising opener in modern philosophical prose. “Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted.”

I found this little gem of a review by Roger Kimball while deleting unread/unopened Opinion Journals. I was immediately intrigued by his description of the Grey Lady’s sudden onset of blushing priggishness…

“Manners,” Edmund Burke wrote, “are of more importance than law. . . . The law touches us but here and there and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform and insensible operation like that of the air we breathe in.”
Manners determine not so much what is right and wrong as what is seemly and unseemly: what is and is not decorous or appropriate. Consider the latest bestseller from Princeton University Press by a philosopher named Harry Frankfurt. It’s called “On Bull—-“–well, many American newspapers, including this one, forbear to print the word, but you know what it is. Even the New York Times, whose lifestyle sections celebrate all manner of “transgressive” habits in detail, can’t bring itself to spell out the book’s title on its bestseller list.

…and completely hooked by the ‘Mr. Podsnap’ thing. How cool is that? (Never having been one to wade through Dickens, I still have a fine appreciation of the gent’s bent for characters.) I have penned this post in honor of Mr. Podsnap. Please consider my share contributed in full, of bull.

10 Responses to “Perish Podsnappish Predilections”

  1. peteb says:

    The original article used to be availble online, THS.. it was when I mentioned it
    But it appears that they’ve removed the text.. Booo Hiss.. and replaced it with a link to a series of clips from an interview with Harry G. Frankfurt.

  2. Mr. Bingley says:

    See? Great minds think alike pete, though it seems some of them move a lot slower than others…or at least clean out their inboxes less frequently.

  3. peteb says:

    Great minds certainly do think alike, Mr B… And why didn’t you mention this particular philosophical article?… :p

  4. Ooooh, like I’m not capable of philosophic depths, eh???? I know, I know. Bingley + keyboard = bullsh*t
    Well established equation.

  5. Mr. Bingley says:

    I delete the Opinion Journals as soon as they come in; they get in the way of Cialis emails Ken makes me forward to him.
    I like bullshit; nay, verily I love it. Few things are more enjoyable in this life of ours than, after hearing some person discourse in such a manner, to turn to a friend over a pint or two and say “What absolute bullshit! Did you ever hear such an asshole?”

  6. peteb says:

    “to turn to a friend over a pint or two..”
    Well, it’s a glass of Stonehaven Shiraz.. but the sentiment is the same..

  7. Mr. Bingley says:

    Have you had Ball Buster yet pete? It’s pretty dang good, and quite reasonably priced.

  8. peteb says:

    Not that particular one since you ask, Ken.. The Barossa Valley route always leads to Ebenezer for me.. and lovely it is.

  9. Nightfly says:

    I like Mr. B’s point, so I’d like to turn its emphasis just a touch. There’s nothing like turning to a friend over a pint and saying, “What absolute BS.” Nor should there be. But once the NYT starts running articles with that phrase as the headline, there is suddenly something that tries to pose as your friend at that bar – and in the Times’ case, an unwelcome, ingratiating “friend” who is usually trying to tell you what to think; failure to agree is proof that you’re unworthy. It’s certain that the true friends who remain will promptly turn to each other and say, “What a bunghole,” perhaps not bothering to wait for the interloper to leave.
    Really, do we want the Times spitting and cussing along with us? “Highbrow” culture and self-importance are great targets for satire, but there’s a point to them. Something becomes higher-class precisely because it won’t stoop. If it does, it’s good aspects are blunted or lost; we hoi polloi get neither the benefits of adopting any of its ideas nor the fun of snubbing the rest.

  10. Mr. Bingley says:

    Excellent point and analysis, Nightfly.

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