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Flushing the Backed-up Links

March 28, 2010

Scott Adams writes that complexity may be killing us; in terms of establishing a sustainable public dialogue I think he’s right.  Unnecessary complexity certainly has been taking its my audience’s attention span.  Since some of you, dear readers, prefer the more streamlined format and because I haven’t been as “regular” as I’d like, here are a few one-line posts to clear the queue:

A legitimate set of questions to ask of Hollywood: Is ______ Jewish?

Reframing the original hipsters; somewhat surprising that I hadn’t previously made that connection.

The new NFL overtime rule, though laudable, should be in effect for the full year, not just the playoffs.

I used to think they were called contranyms, but autoantonyms makes sense to me.  Especially when explained so philosophically:

Autoantonymy seems, in fact, to be the inherent tendency of words. Spinoza said that every determination is a negation, and to this extent the very use of a determinate word with a determinate meaning requires that one also implicitly say: this is not that. But to say what something is not is already to mention that other thing, and so to associate the thing you are mentioning with its opposite. This, I think, is the genealogy of autoantonyms.

Finally, Alain de Botton, pop philosopher extraordinaire, reiterates the point made by Camus in The Fall in much more explicit terms.  I.e.,

Being good has come to feel dishonest. The great psychologists of the modern age, from La Bruyère to Freud, have convincingly shown that there are no intrinsically benevolent patterns of behaviour. Egoism and aggression are understood to lie at the heart of our personalities and never more so than in individuals who attempt to cover them up with unusual displays of virtue. The nun, the parish priest, the self-sacrificing politician; we have been trained to sense fouler impulses behind their gentle deeds. What looks like goodness must involve either obedience or perverted forms of egoism (the biographers can be expected to unearth the details in due course). Self-interested motives are glued to the underside of every apparently benevolent act. Probe hard enough at kindness, concern or pity and the clear-headed psychologist will soon come up against the fundamental bedrocks of character: envy, malice and fear. To be optimistic about the human condition is to appear sentimental, credulous and not a little simple-minded.

More extensive commentary coming soon.  Not that you’re necessarily waiting for that.

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