Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheap Orwellian Tricks

My last post on Orwell and speech codes really struck a nerve with our leftist friend Ducky. Here’s my favorite comment from him, a piece of rhetoric I call an unsolicited Tu Quoque:

Let's see, we could spends days discussing phrases the right has deployed such as "weapons of mass destruction" or "the liberal media".
The right in general isn't interested in any precise use of language.
Merely say "sharia" and you bark like freaking trained seals.
Sorry, Silverfiddle, but you don't often find the real hard core right capable of moving past a few canned memes.
How about the left’s use of “assault weapon,” “Rabies Radio,” “Faux News," “blood for oil” (only when a Republican is in the White House)…  But I digress. Ducky is engaging in a misdirect Tu Quoque, avoiding the main point and shouting “Waaaah! Conservatives do it too!”  Which responds to nothing, because I never claimed otherwise, but I’m sure Orwell would be impressed with the intellectual depth of Ducky’s rebuttal.

I grant him that many Americans do get into a lather at the mention of Sharia, but it’s warranted.

We have nice looking westernized Imams assuring us that Islam is a religion of peace and Sharia is as innocuous and fluffy as a basket of kittens. Meanwhile, foaming-at-the-mouth Islamists kill infidels on the streets, burn down embassies and behead Jewish reporters, all in the name of Islam.  We've even had a few "honor" killing here in the good ol' US of A.

Perhaps they are abusing the religion and abusing the terms Jihad and Sharia, but actions speak louder than words. I think a reasonable person could excuse other reasonable people the natural tendency to give more weight to loud and violent acts than they do to calmly spoken rhetoric. Actions speak for themselves, words are just easy inventions.

Language (and Image) Abuse:  All sides do it

Ducky complains of the use of certain words as code-speech or quick labels to manipulate the masses or cast shorthand opprobrium on a person or group, and I agree with him. Shorthand is convenient. Imagine having to give a citation-laden dissertation every time you spoke. But it also allows speakers and listeners to lapse into lazy, well-grooved modes of thought, so yes, critical thinking is a must.

And then, as if on cue, Jersey stepped in with this banal piece of propaganda...
When you look at the voter and immigration laws being passed in the South, and the impetus from the Tea Party to make those laws, that if proof of the culture of racism in the Tea Party. When you look at their insanely hyperbolic caricatures of Obama, from the very beginning, that is proof of racism in the Tea Party.

[…] bla bla bla […]

… the drug war is racist, our immigration policies are racist, our foreign policies are racist.

Racism remains a very serious problem in America, and most of it comes from the Right.
That statement took zero thought. Grab the words from the propaganda library and go.  You could build a 99 cent lib-speak iPhone app to come up with that!

"A wathscally wightwing wathist behind evwy twee! And behind evwy government powicy!"

Note the imperious tone and the declaration of finality Jersey uses. A big, wet clot of unsubstantiated twaddle and logical fallacies, wadded up and thrown in our faces as he admonishes us to shut our gobs!
There's no arguing that. That's not "newsspeak" or "codespeak" or a "dog whistle." It is reality.  Anyone who says otherwise deluded, ignorant, or a liar. Period.
“There’s no arguing that!” Got it? Jersey’s style conjures visions of a fat, balding liberal Archie Bunker, pontificating from his ratty recliner wearing a spaghetti-stained wife beater and jabbing his lit cigar at you for emphasis. “There’s no arguing!” “Got that?” “Period!”

Orwell explains this in more detail in his essay Politics and the English Language. I recommend you take a few minutes and read it.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.

In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.
I think left, right and middle can all agree on that.


Ducky's here said...

I haven't noticed the left using the phrase "rabies radio". They should but it's pretty much mine.

Ducky's here said...

Speaking of shorthand, Silver, here's a useful tip. Your original post concerned racism. Well, look at a posters profile and check out music. If you see "everything but rap" you've got one.

Ducky's here said...

We've even had a few "honor" killing here in the good ol' US of A.


Very few. But as I have pointed out, sharia says NOTHING about honor killings and it is a cultural phenomenon not a religious phenomenon.

Now that type of distinction wold require a level headed conversation that is NOT possible in America primarily because of the workings of rabies radio which has drawn on the right's tendency to live in fear.

This situation will exist until a higher quality of reportage moves into the journalism media.
Or maybe you think Andrew Breitbart is the way closer to objective truth.
Or maybe the right can keep up the din of calling PBS a leftist outlet.

"I think left, right and middle can agree on that."
No, we have a solid minority in this country who can't even make a reasonable distinction of what is left, right or middle.
Obama is a socialist? Freaking bore me later.

Silverfiddle said...

I have done some reading on Sharia, and I don't disagree with you. All I am saying is that actions speak louder than words, and to put it as charitably as possible, a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel.

However unfair or unreasoned you believe it to be, people's jaundiced view of Islam is not unfounded.

I find your "everything but rap" comment interesting...

jez said...

I find Ducky's "everything but rap" comment interesting too.

I could well have described my own taste in such terms up to about 10 years ago. Thoughtful and musical hip-hop exists, but I can't blame people who aren't looking for it (why would they be?) not to have found it yet -- the music industry sure doesn't promote it.

Anonymous said...

People have the right to be stupid. I respect Ducky's right to be stupid as much as my own.

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait, wait...isn't Jersey McJones the guy who used the word "faggot" (and not in a nice way) over at Rational Nation USA?

Thought so.

Anonymous said...

@Conservatives on Fire:

I regularly exercise my right to be stupid. Actually, I regularly exercise my right to subject myself to stupidity by reading certain Socialist/liberal/Democrat blogs and websites.

Long Live Stoopid!

Anonymous said...

First off, I **LOVE** George Orwell.

Now that I've confessed my historical figure bromance, I want to say that this is an interesting discussion.

What I've noticed is that both sides are insanely guilty of the things Orwell spoke out against in terms of the subversion of language. Here are some examples:

Republicans: class warfare; drill baby drill; social justice; sharia; Islam (yes, I went there); Obamacare; Romneycare; Progressives; pro-abortion; pro-life; bail out.

Democrats: Rethuglicans; no blood for oil; Occupy Anything Anywhere; pro-choice; anti-abortion; 1% and 99%; Conservative; War on anything (poor people, the middle class, decency, freedom etc); too big to fail; bail out; investment into the future; school vouchers; Christianity (yes, I went there, too).

A lot of these things aren't words or phrases created by either side, but they've been emptied of their original content and altered to induce particular attitudes and ideas. For example, Islam isn't synonymous with terrorism, or extremist fundamentalism, but how many Republicans make that distinction? Christianity isn't synonymous with bible thumping douche bags that protest funerals and treat gay people like sinful sub-humans, but that's what a lot of Liberals seem to think.

Social Justice, the idea that the affluent and well-meaned people of society should not ignore the suffering of the poor, is not a bad thing. But it's been twisted to be almost synonymous with socialism or communism.

Everyone on both sides is guilty of the same thing. And I know, Silver, that you tend to not like that "you do it, too" argument, but your dismissal of that argument only counts if you're as critical to your side of the fence as you are the other side.

Why do you bother telling Liberals that they're being snowed? Probably because you want them to realize it, right? Well, why do they bother telling you that you're snowed? They do it for the same reason.

What I've found increasingly ridiculous is how each side tears the other apart for the same crap that they do themselves. And what's funny is that whenever you say that to anyone, the usual response is "well the difference between them and us is that we're right! We have things like "facts" and "logic" on our side."

If everyone is calling everbody's facts false and their logic fallacious, then where the hell is the truth? The truth is likely found somewhere in both sides, all sound bites and clever phrases aside.

Z said...

wait! If you don't like rap you're a racist? Ducky, is that a joke or are you serious?
If you don't like Beethoven, you hate Germans?If you're not a Sinatra fan, you're suspected of hating Italians?

Anonymous said...

If you don't like rap, you are merely sane, and probably have reasonably good taste. There's a lot of cleverness that goes into rap, but most of it carries a sad, bad, anti-social, hate-filled message. Besides, listening to it is the moral equivalent of letting yourself be tied into a chair so you can be slapped in the face at rhymic intervals with a buggy whip.

If you don't like Beethoven, you either have a tin ear, a poor cultural background, or sadly limited spiritual horizons and intellectual capacities. However, Beethoven is definitely not for boobs. Don't feel bad if you're a boob. God must have loved boobs, because He made so many of them -- and I am not talking about mammary glands in case anyone wants to make an irrelevant wisecrack.

~ FT

Anonymous said...


Wait. As a heterosexual male, happily and very, very married to a hottie, am I to understand that I shouldn't like boobs? :)

I don't understand your dislike of rap. It is hardly misogynistic, racist, or immoral. I mean, allow me to quote:

"Bit*hes ain't sh*t but ho's and tricks,
who lick the n*ts and suck the d*ck."

How can you not appreciate such sentiment? Obviously you're a racist hater, FT. Someone alert Jersey McJones!

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: The purpose of this post is to zoom in on specific words people said in a comment thread yesterday.

Go read yesterday's Orwell post and the thread after it and you'll get the context.

I do tire of the "both sides do it," and the tedious balancing out of criticisms, but read yesterday's post and you will see that I never claim that I or conservatives don't fall into the same errors.

If I see errors on my side that I think will hurt us, I do point them out, but I am not going to gratuitously rain down criticism on my own side, there are plenty on the left who do that already.

Jersey McJones said...

I love the way you just toss aside facts because you do not care for the way they are presented, Silver. Such a typical conservative way of holding your hands over your ears.

You see cons do this all the time. They say they are the mature, and civil, and neat, and so therefore their positions must be right! It's a joke.

It reminds me of when they catch a serial killer and ask his neighbors about him and they say, "Oh, but he was such a quiet, polite guy! Who'da thunk it?"

And I love the way you misrepresent Orwell on these posts. The man would not agree with you about almost anything. Orwell was deeply sensitive to the issues of race and class, and identified with and spoke out for the poor and minorities.

But you twist his ideas about totalitarian rhetoric into your petty little pet peeves regarding liberal political correctness and your visceral hatred of civil redress for the disenfranchised.

Good for you, Silver. These past two posts are not serious at all. just cheap pot-shots at the Left.


Unknown said...

"They say they are the mature and civil, and neat" HMMM who started the "Teabagger" phenomena... Yeah, that's real mature.

Anonymous said...

Jersey McJones. Still batting 0.000. And more shrill and incoherent than ever. Congratulations on taking self-parody to new heights!

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Your chain of logic on tea party racism is missing a few links. You posit a supposition unsubstantiated by fact. You are ascribing motives to people you don't know and you can't prove what their motive is.

I am discussing Orwell's views on language, not race or class, or the poor or minorities. You have committed a category error. Get back on topic and stop diverting.

Oh, and you forgot to end your last post with "PERIOD!"

Jersey McJones said...


How could you have your head so stuck in the sand?

You think the drug war is not racist?

You think our immigration policies are not racist?

You think the ludicrous caricatures of Obama by the Tea Party is not racist?


I actually would have to prove these things to you???


Lisa said...

John Kerry said Rap to him was "poetry".

And Hillary goes to a black Church and puts on a phony black accent.

Does this prove they are not racists or are they just trying to prove/pretend that they aren't?

Notice how Obama is trying to make more people 'disenfranchised" to gain more support?
The left continues to cut off their noses to site their faces.

Z said...

"You think the drug war is not racist?"

I don't. Unless you're thinking Black Americans can't control themselves so they're more apt to buy drugs? The soft bigotry of low expectations there, JMJ?

"You think our immigration policies are not racist?"

REALLY? Is any immigration policy not racist in your opinion? The fact that we turn a blind eye to millions of people breaking the law surely isn't racist, is it?

"You think the ludicrous caricatures of Obama by the Tea Party is not racist?"

I have only gone to one TP event and I have friends who've gone to many and none of us has ever seen a caricature of Obama there...especially not a racist one.
Bush was characterized by monkeys and hitler; was that racist, JMJ?

But, of course, if we criticize Obama, we're racists, too, right?
Talk about ludicrous.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Jersey: I actually would have to prove these things to you???

Yes. People making assertions must present proof.

Anonymous said...


*yawn* Oh, huh? What is it? You're still bleating your racist rhetoric about dissension for the President is obviously rooted therein?


Anonymous said...

>People making assertions must present proof.

You know that requiring proof, facts, reason, etc., makes you a racist, right?

Trekkie4Ever said...

I have to address one minor thing that Z, hit upon. Rap music. Okay, I will happily claim I am a racist because that is NOT music it's garbage and most annoying especially when I hear it being blared in the middle of night while hard-working, taxpaying drones are trying to get some much needed shut-eye. I can honestly say, "I hate it." And I'll add that with country western music, too. Yech!! *ducking for cover* hee...

Now, I believe that all parties represented are entitled to being stupid once in a while, none of us are perfect, but some people really do abuse the privilege.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Anonymous said...

Has a charicature never, EVER been made about any other president? It's okay when we're poking fun at a white president, but not at a black president?

Please explain how the drug war is racist. Drugs are illegal. If you're a white guy that deals cocaine and you're caught you get sent to jail. If you're a black guy that deals cocaine and you're caught, you go to jail.

Immigration policies are sort of incidental now, aren't they? I mean, how many white Europeans are coming into the country illegally?

Anonymous said...

How many know that Orwell’s true name was Eric Arthur Blair, and that he was born in India -- or that the poor man only lived to age 46. He died in 1950.

I read his essay with enjoyment but also a growing dismay at how he would, doubtless, regard my own linguistic and syntactical inadequacies, but even more at the appalling degree of degeneration that has occurred since he wrote this critical essay.

I can’t say I agree with everything he said, however. I was a little disappointed at the peculiar tone of insularity he adopted that seemed to resent any intrusion into our language of words and phrases not from Ango-Saxon roots. Additions I feel have greatly enriched the language -- if used tastefully and sparingly.

I felt too an annoying conflation or blurring of the distinction between pretension and erudition.

Two segments stood out as noteworthy:

”Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestos, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases -- bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder -- one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine.


”political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

“Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

”’While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement’.”

What could one possibly say to such brilliant analysis and eloquence other than "WOW!?"

~ FreeThinke

Z said...

actually, there's little music that gets me more movin' and dancin' to my car radio than the beat of good rap..I'm just sayin'! (and some of you know I'm a classical pianist and jazz singer and love almost every type of music other than less than sensational mariachi. Yikes! Maybe that makes me a racist, too!?)

Anonymous said...

I’ll dare to make a few suggestions of my own as to how we might improve our ability to communicate:

1. Avoid using “that” as much as possible:

ACCEPTABLE: She knows that I’ll be there
BETTER: She knows I’ll be there

Listen to President Obama, and you'll exactly what NOT to do in this regard.

2. Avoid extraneous prepositions and try not use them at the end of sentences

BAD: I know where I’m at
GOOD: I know where I am.

BAD: It’s not that big of a deal
BETTER: It’s not that big a deal
BEST: It’s not important

BAD: Costs mount up all the time
GOOD: Prices always rise

BAD: Congress doesn’t know where they’ve gotten to
GOOD: Congress has no idea what they’ve done.

3. Avoid such awkward colloquial phrases as

BAD: I like that she’s going steady with me
GOOD: I’m glad she’s going steady with me

BAD: I like that the trip will take us over the bridge
GOOD: I’m pleased we’re going to use the bridge

BAD: I’m loving what you’ve done to this room.
GOOD: You’ve done a beautiful job decorating this room.

BAD: I’m not a fan of cheddar cheese (or whatever)
GOOD: I don’t like cheddar cheese.

4. Avoid using “the fact that” whenever possible

a) I’m loving the fact that the neighborhood is now less pricey
b) I’m liking the fact that she got her hair cut short
c) I’m not a fan of the fact that Democrats steal elections
d) That fact that she took off thirty pounds doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t know where she’s at.

5. Never allow yourself to say “you know?” in the middle or the end of a sentence. PERIOD!

6. Avoid splitting infinitives Everybody may do it, but it still trips up the flow of a good sentence in most instances.

a) In order to properly arrange a bouquet ...
b) If you want to clearly express an idea ...
c) To boldly go where no man has gone before ...
d) She thought it would be more tactful for him to secretly arrange his extra-marital affairs than to callously flaunt them in her face.

7. Avoid buzzwords, clichés, slogans and shibboleths

Grow the economy
Plausible deniability
Mistakes were made
My friends and fellow Americans
Wag the dog
Give peace a chance
Fun city
Saint Ronnie Raygun

8. Avoid using nouns as verbs

a) If you want to message me, call 000-0000
b) Cigarette me, will you, honey?

Before long, if we’re not careful, we’ll be hearing sentences like:

a) Let’s dresser the bedroom, we need to storage more
b) Why not patio the back yard?
c) Let’s car our way up to the farmer’s market.
d) Dinner me up fast, I’m hungry.
e) Be sure to bow the wreath before dooring it.
f) He pianoed the audience for two hours, so they went home fully concerted.

As Orwell strongly urges: Think about what you really want to say, then say it as clean;y and directly as possible. Don't just blurt out the first lazy phrase that pops into your head. "Automatic writing" can't possibly be a good form of communication.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

"Actually, there's little music that gets me more movin' and dancin' to my car radio than the beat of good rap ..."

That's a shame, Z. I'm so sorry to hear it.

You can be sure I will pray for the speediest possible recovery for you.

Meanwhile, if I were you, I wouldn't advertise my suffering from this dreadful affliction. People might start giving you a wide berth.

Get well soon!

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

One more piece of linguistic advice:

Please let's revive the possessive:

WRONG: His mother didn't approve of him going to the fight.
RIGHT: His mother didn't approve of his going to the fight.

WRONG: I love them adopting orphan babies.
RIGHT: I love their adopting orphan babies.

There are loads of examples of this everywhere you look. We've virtually forgotten the possessive.

It's all part of the coarsening of the culture and the "dumbing-down" process to which we've been subjected for longer than most of us care to imagine.

Orwell said one thing to which I take strong exception: I can't find the exact words right now, but after taking writers of his generation to task for peppering their sentences with with Latin phrases and other foreign pollutions, he then indicated that proper grammar, syntax, good style and usage were not important as long as the writer made himself clearly understood.

I have a feeling he might eat those words if he were alive today to see where verbal licentiousness has led us.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

Thanks Grammar Girl.

Ducky's here said...

You like norteno, z?

Mariachi with a mediocre brass section s torture.

Ducky's here said...

Well, cheer up Freethinker. it isn't only writers that are taking it on the chin these days, musicians and visual artists better play the free market game if they want to be heard.

You and I may find some common ground in Benedetto Croce's aesthetics and his belief that art has primary importance for its ability to enlighten and instruct.

Even then if you mention art you're likely, in my experience, to get an immediate kneejerk rant about Serrano and the way the left has destroyed the culture.

Try to talk about film and you get some rant about left wing Hollywood as if Hollywood has done anything to advance film in the last thirty years.

Much of the right simply has a hostility to modernism. Discussion is daunting.

Silverfiddle said...

I do love me a good anti-Hollywood rant, but I also love their movies.

Based on my experience, I believe there is a strong correlation between artistic talent and being liberal.

I don't say that as a smear. I have known quite a few artistic people and they are all lefties.

What do you think, Ducky?

Z said...

Ducky, I just found Joe Cuba and like that but have VERY rarely enjoyed mariachi music, though I love Besame and La Paloma, etc....
I'm a salsa girl...sexier latin music like that.
Love good rap, salsa, and nearly everything else....

Anonymous said...

In case anyone is interested these are Orwell's exact words:

"It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a "good
prose style."

Y'all really should read his essay. When it comes to the use of language, Orwell was far ahead of any of us a good 65 or 70 years ago. His command of his material is awe-inspiring.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Based on my experience, I believe there is a strong correlation between artistic talent and being liberal."

Well, my friend, you've met me, and my whole life has been involved with Classical Music, Art, Poetry, Literature, Restoring Old Houses, Interior Decoration, Gardening, etc. and I'm so conservative I probably qualify as a reactionary.

That doesn't mean I hold orthodox views on anything, however, as I guess you must have discerned by now?

I think what you have seen and sensed is more the spirit of rebellion against what-used-to-be-called Philistinism -- i.e. smug, self-righteous contentment with mediocrity and intolerance for anything that tends to question or disturb the status quo. Some want to call that "Conservatism," but I prefer to think of it as Deadheadism -- very different animal. Deadheads are anti-intellectual. I am only opposed to pseudo-intellectualism and devotion to "Art" and "Thought" that promote irrationality and embrace Chaos, Suicide and Oblivion.

I do appreciate the power and originality of "Expressionism" -- the genre that produced Munch's The Schriek (Cry, Scream, Howl, whatever) among other things, but I would soon go mad if I had any of it hanging on the walls of my home.

~ FT

Ducky's here said...

Based on my experience, I believe there is a strong correlation between artistic talent and being liberal.


That's my experience at least for those who have chosen art as a profession. I believe we all have an innate artistic style that frequently gets forgotten, unfortunately.

I first started really paying attention to film as a young teen in the late 60's. Everything seemed radical then because of the contrast to American film which was still under the Hays code.
Some research on American attendance of what came to be known as "art cinema" (I really dislike the term) recently showed that 80% of the attendance was in the Boston/New York/Philadelphia corridor with San Francisco accounting for a good bit of the rest. Something like "Memories of Underdevelopment", "The Hour of the Furnaces" or "I Am Cuba" is virtually unknown to the world film audience today.
To call Hollywood leftist can only be done by someone who hasn't watched Chris Marker, Fred Wiseman, Jean-Luc Godard, Shohei Imamura, Satyajit Ray, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luchino Visconti, Jacques Rivette etc. etc..

You'd have to watch the Eastern European directors and even then there are surprises.

Calling Hollywood liberal just seems to me so laughable that I have to double take and remember that left and right are just two separate, non intersecting worlds. Hollywood is about making money and they understand politics isn't great box office(although Disney got burned turning down Michael Moore) and we'll never get back to the films of the fifties and sixties -- talk about a Golden age.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: I defer to your expertise on the subject of film.

I agree with you that the late 60's was an awesome period, but it can't be repeated because it was a reaction to the stolid period it sprang from.

Anonymous said...

1939 happened to be the acme in the world of cinema. It's been a very long, very slow very tragic slide downhill ever since -- with a few exceptions along the way to be sure.

That's my opinion -- never humble, always sure.

European films -- and I have seen many -- are invariably depressing.

Admittedly most of what Hollywood has produced is crap, but at least it used to be fun. ow it's just plain crap.

Same thing with television. Started out like a veritable Bonfire of Creativity. It was exciting, joyous, fascinating, sometimes instructive. What is it today?


~ FT

Ducky, why are you so enamored of material that predominantly depressing, degrading, depraved, degenerate and nihilistic? May be life really is like that, but why dwell on it?

We all know we have murderous passions, go insane, live in poverty, and to shit, piss and sometimes have sex, but why concentrate on the darkest, dreariest aspects of human existence? It's nothing to celebrate.

The modernist ethos has infected to Public Television, and now it's depressing and infuriating as everything else. Pop Culture is al, about militant triviality, degrading inanity and nihilism. Modern intellectualism, I swear, is an incessant drumbeat that seems to insist

Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!
Give Up, You're Done. It's Over. Die!

It's a good thing the cavemen didn't feel that way.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

Ducky, why are you so enamored of material that predominantly depressing, degrading, depraved, degenerate and nihilistic?

Freethinker, here's your film assignment.

Satyajit Ray - The Apu trilogy

Yasajiro Ozu - Late Spring,Good Morning, Tokyo Story

Jacques Tati - Playtime

Ingmar Bergman - Smiles of a Summer Night

Jacques Rivette - Celine and Julie Go Boating (maybe my favorite film, the "robbery" on roller skates is just such a joyous quote of Feuillade)

Wim Wenders - Alice in the Cities, Wings of Desire

... no nihilism in the bunch. Most are available on Netflix or Hulu.

Finntann said...

"If you see "everything but rap" you've got one."

Now I don't find rap to be particularly offensive, and there are good rap songs out there, just like there are good songs in virtually every genre.

I have a somewhat humorous anecdote from work about ten years ago. I was running a quality control section and had a young white kid from LA working for me who listened to rap. Unfortunately he listened to I guess what is termed Compton Rap, in which probably half the lyrics consisted of four letter words. Basically the stuff FT seems to be referring to.

I was the new boss, and I didn't consider the lyrics appropriate for the workplace and instructed him to stop playing it. Needless to say he was pissed and let me know it, but afterwards two of the woman and one of the men who worked for me thanked me for the ban.

About two months later I got my new boss who was a black man from Alabama. The guy who liked rap, started playing it again the first day my new boss was in the office. Before I even had the opportunity to get out of my seat, Dwight was all over him and told him he never, ever wanted to hear that "crap" in the office again.

Two points to this story.

One, not liking Rap doesn't make you a racist.

Two, don't assume anyone who's black automatically likes Rap.

As far as "most of it carries a sad, bad, anti-social, hate-filled message."

Sure there is a lot of crap out there, the same can be said of any other genre. But there are also Rap songs with a more positive message. We'll start you light FT... listen to Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur on YouTube.

Pour out some liquor and I reminsce, cause through the drama
I can always depend on my mama
And when it seems that I'm hopeless
You say the words that can get me back in focus
When I was sick as a little kid
To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did
And all my childhood memories
Are full of all the sweet things you did for me
And even though I act craaazy
I gotta thank the Lord that you made me
There are no words that can express how I feel
You never kept a secret, always stayed real
And I appreciate, how you raised me
And all the extra love that you gave me
I wish I could take the pain away
If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day
Everything will be alright if ya hold on
It's a struggle everyday, gotta roll on
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated


Finntann said...

First, there was racism... now there is new and improved racism, 33% more per package for the same price, now with ZING!.

Seems like for Jersey, Racism is the Easy Button.

Don't like drug laws? Racist

Don't like immigration laws? Racist

Don't like speed limits? Racist

Don't like zoning laws? Racist

Don't like HOAs? Racist

"Racist"... it's the automatic win!

In an argument, cant defend your position? Whip out the racist label and watch them stutter and spurt.

It's obvious... if they're white... they're a racist.

If they're black and have the wrong opinions...even more obviously racist.

So, McJones... please do explain to us how immigration laws are racist, and what type of immigration laws would be acceptable to you.

Or is the only non-racist immigration policy completely open borders?

Do tell!

Z said...

Finntann, good luck getting that answer!

Jersey McJones said...

So, let's see here...

Z thinks we should tell people what to put in their bodies...

""You think the drug war is not racist?"

I don't. Unless you're thinking Black Americans can't control themselves so they're more apt to buy drugs? The soft bigotry of low expectations there, JMJ?"

Nice, Z. Any other things you think the blacks can't control?

Silver, meanwhile, apparently knows nothing whatsoever about US history regarding race and needs to be informed...

"@ Jersey: I actually would have to prove these things to you???

Yes. People making assertions must present proof."

Jack has decided he's the student counselor from South Park...

"Please explain how the drug war is racist. Drugs are illegal."

All I could add is "M'kay."

And in the end, Finntann assumes racism is only manifested by those who decry it.

Good for you guys.

Personally, I'd rather not think that way.


MathewK said...

"Please explain how the drug war is racist."

Maybe because the powder is white. I don't know, a leftards head is so full of mush, it's hard to make any sense of it

jez said...

I think the idea is that penalties for crack charges (popular among black users) are harsher than equivalent cocaine charges (popular among white users).

I'm reasonably satisfied that crack poses a significantly greater public threat than coke, but I'm also reasonably satisfied that users of either should receive a good firm slap full in the face every time they score.

Silverfiddle said...

You completely misunderstood Z's remarks and worse, you mischaracterized them. She was calling you the racist for putting people in special categories for special treatment, infantilizing them.

You are not that dumb, so I can only assume it's a cheap trick because you have nothing substantive to back your emotion-driven propagana-laden outbursts.

You should be ashamed of yourself. You are not debating goodwill and candor.

Always On Watch said...

Duck the hypocrite strikes again:

Speaking of shorthand, Silver, here's a useful tip. Your original post concerned racism. Well, look at a posters profile and check out music. If you see "everything but rap" you've got one.

I've heard him quack about how he hates Mexican music (or some such) particularly when it's blasted from cars' speakers -- and even Mexicans (Latinos?).

Always On Watch said...

Did Orwell never read Strunk & White's The Elements of Style?

Anonymous said...

I'm more than a little disappointed that you not only dodged answering a legitimate question I asked of you, but also completely misrepresented what I said.

Of course, when you cut off 80% of what I said it made it sound like I was the guy from South Park.

I thought that I had shown you enough respect and reasoned debate that you'd refrain from replying to me with useless snark, but perhaps I was wrong?

Whatevs I guess.

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey's fact-free fluff melts under legitimate examination...

Z said...

Jersey, I thought you were misguided but I never thought you were totally dishonest. You said "Nice, Z. Any other things you think the blacks can't control?"

You do understand that was my whole point to you, right? had to try to run from my criticism of your comments by insulting me?
YOU are the one SAID our drug laws are racist, and my question was "HOW?" Do you REALLY think that blacks can't be trusted not to do more drugs than whites? REALLY, JERSEY?

I'm sure all the other commenters understood my quote about the soft bigotry of your low didn't? what a nerve

Anonymous said...

A last piece of advice in the use of our language:

Avoid using I, me, and my as much as possible. Also try to avoid you. The pronouns referring to the self sound egocentric -- even childish -- when used frequently. "You" often sounds accusatory -- even threatening.

Obviously not a hard and fast rule, but something to observe carefully as you're burbling along through the blogosphere.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ducky, for the film references. I'm familiar with Stars of a Summer Night, but only through the treatment it received in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music -- a touching theater piece that never fails to give me goose bumps of delight, despite its being more than a little wistful.

Normally, I associate Bergman with Winter Light, The Virgin Spring, Cries and Whispers, and Wild Strawberries.

Even though I am a great opera fan, and have attended regularly for most of the past fifty years, I still have trouble with subtitles. The idea of listening to Japanese while trying to read the words below the action on the screen is daunting.

With music it is different, because the music is a language in and of itself, and in truly significant works the text is entirely subordinate to the music. In fact the music explains and expresses the meaning of the text more eloquently than words alone ever could.

That's a simplification of the process, but I suspect -- or at least hope -- you may understand what I mean.

I was probably thinking of Last Year at Marienbad when I first mentioned "foreign" films.

Sundays and Cybele, by the way, is one of my great favorites. Extraordinarily affecting. An eloquent indictment of orthodox thinking if ever there was one!


~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...


Let's leave it at this:

I won't try to convert you to an appreciation of the sublime joys of listening to Bach Cantatas, Handel Oratorios, German Lieder, French Art Songs, or the operas of Monteverdi, Mozart, Weber, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and Wagner, if you will permit me to continue in my happy ignorance of any virtue there may be in rap. I have already acknowledged that rap is original and can be quite clever, but I'd rather it not invade my consciousness any more than it already has.

Thank you.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

By the way, Finntann and everyone else, perfectly good "positive messages" may be sent in vehicles poorly designed for the purpose. The popular song Let There Be Peace On Earth is a good example. The sentiments are noble, but the music is one of the worst bits of mawkishly irreverent tripe ever written. It borders on self-parody. "Everybody" may love it, but that doesn't make it worthy.

Sometime ago I posted the story of The Passion of Our Lord set to the tune Yankee Doodle to illustrate this very point. The words accurately tell the story, but music is what-should-be-heard-as an obvious misfit. The music also dictated a rhyme scheme that could only be described as irreverent if not downright blasphemous.

When a culture loses the capacity to discern the difference among Art, Kitsch, Parody, Satire, Sentimental Claptrap, and just-plain-Junk, it's in deep trouble. That's where the Marxian misconception of egalitarianism has taken us.

When all things are considered of equal value and nothing may be regarded as superior or inferior, all sense of meaning and purpose is lost, and we are cut adrift to meander gently down the stream until we get caught in the rapids as we approach the falls.

We're just about there now. -- Or so it seems to his old buzzard.


~ FreeThinke

Z said...

ecc, I know they exist, but I have never EVER heard rap lyrics like's the beat, my friend :-)

Ducky's here said...

SUNDAYS AND CYBELE? I take it all back Freethinker.

It's out of print but I managed to find a copy of an Italian bootleg. Very clean transfer and my estimable Pioneer DV-610AV-K was able to mount it after a couple tries.

If you showed the film today you'd have the family values crowd all upset.

Knowledge of that film gets you big street cred with the cineaste crowd.

Anonymous said...

I'm a loner, Ducky. Don't belong to any crowd of any kind. I have always gone wherever my heart leads me. One of those places was Sundays and Cybele -- which I found incredibly moving. I haven't seen it since the late nineteen-sixties, but it will remain with me till I lose consciousness once and for all.

Your lumping me in with the NASCAR set on the other thread was so funny my sides will be aching for days laughing at the thought.

I never attach myself to anything because I believe it will make others look on me with favor.

Nevertheless, I am glad we have found a bit of common ground. There may be more of that than you might think.


~ FT

Z said...

boy, FT, NOW you can die and go to heaven.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I have your permission to ascend, Z, but I plan to stick around earth for a while yet, God willing, of course. One never knows ...

You and I share two very sad anniversaries about a year apart.

This was sent to me in November of 2008 by a friend from high school who turned out to be a fellow poet. She was very kind to share it with me. I found it touching and helpful in dealing with grief. I hope it works as well for you.


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

~ Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)


~ FreeThinke

Finntann said...

Now, now FT... don't make assumptions about people you don't know.

You don't need to convert me to anything, I have quite a large classical music collection.

Along with Swing, Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Country, Celtic, Rock, Pop, Rap, and I even go as far as Techno and Industrial on occasion.

I play the trumpet and guitar, played in a Jazz band at one time... always wanted to learn the violin, or perhaps more appropriately, the fiddle ;)

As to classical, I'm partial to Pachelbel, Rossini, Verdi, Paganini, Offenbach, Vivaldi... well you get the idea.

As for Bach, while his cantatas are excellent, he reaches near perfection in his fugues.


Grung_e_Gene said...

Back in October Herman Cain said this, “I don't believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way.” Cain on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

You stated over at Rational Nation USA:

"Cain is on firm ground here..."

Still believe it or are you going to go Full Coulter and proclaim the evil leftists are the racists and Cain was wrong back then?

Silverfiddle said...

I still believe it.