that's what my daddy made me August 1, 2008 6:29 PM   Subscribe

nasreddin hit one out of the park today.
posted by plexi to MetaFilter-Related at 6:29 PM (226 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You are quite right
posted by popechunk at 6:38 PM on August 1, 2008


thanks for pointing that out, plexi. I would never have read that thread, thus missing nasreddin's wonderful input.
posted by supermedusa at 6:45 PM on August 1, 2008


THE SYSTEM WORKS!!11!eleventy-one!!11!

Ya, that was good stuff from the nas.
posted by Mister_A at 6:49 PM on August 1, 2008


Wow. I had given up on that trainwreck long before that comment. Thank you for pointing this out.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:00 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've found myself disagreeing with nasreddin every so often, but I've had similar ideas floating around in my head, and he expressed them much better than I could. Nice analysis!
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:06 PM on August 1, 2008


I didn't know he played ball.
posted by Sailormom at 7:08 PM on August 1, 2008


Agreed, though I had to read many of those sentences about five times apiece.
posted by jamjam at 7:11 PM on August 1, 2008


I don't agree with his point, but he definitely did an admirable job constructing it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:12 PM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Like dnab, had given up. Well worth the heads up.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:15 PM on August 1, 2008


Huh. Missing a pronoun, that's hip, right?
posted by JaredSeth at 7:16 PM on August 1, 2008


It's a perceptive comment. However any discussion of hipsterism is always going to be fraught by the fact that the word 'hipster' has a pretty slippery definition. In it's original sense, it merely meant someone who was 'in the know' about something. These days like 'hippie,' 'redneck' 'geek,' or 'fratboy' it's become a catch-all term for collections of traits that one either likes or dosen't. To me when I complain about hipsters, I'm usually complaining about trendiness or flipness, but there's plenty of people who might meet the superficial qualifications for hipsterness who aren't like that. It's complicated is all I'm saying.

Interesting that he mentioned Springsteen. I'm publicly on record as being a huge Springsteen fan, but the reason why...I've been listening to 'Radio Nowhere' over and over again lately, and it reminds me of certain times in my life, just the existensial loneliness of those periods, and hearing in punches me right in the gut. On the other hand, I've never been the child of a single mother living in the projects and Everclear's 'Father Of Mine' hits me like a ton of bricks as well. Which was probably Art Alexakis' intention, to communicate how he felt. I'm rambling, but I hope I'm making a point
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Meh, it's not really all that impressive. Any analysis of hipsters is post hoc to begin with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:51 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any analysis of hipsters is post hoc to begin with.

Uh, Blazecock, the hip thing to say these days is "poho". You obviously haven't been attending the weekly hipster meetings over in Williamsburg.

*waits for someone to point out that Williamsburgisn't hip anymore*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:55 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Uh, Blazecock, the hip thing to say these days is "poho".

I thought that was an inexpensive prostitute.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oscar Wilde sneers at your ironic trucker's hat.
posted by felix betachat at 8:06 PM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Aha! You like Springsteen AND you thought that! I now present you with this official "I AM NOT A HIPSTER" baseball cap. Congratulations, jonmc!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on August 1, 2008


Also, jonmc, you'll note that the back of the cap is embroidered thusly:

"...and this is NOT an ironic trucker's hat!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:09 PM on August 1, 2008


Anyway, who ever heard of an ironic trucker?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:10 PM on August 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


But, anyone who fancies the idea of rewriting the lyrics to "Convoy" as a hipster/ironic trucker anthem is hereby strongly encouraged to do so.

I'd try my hand at it, but I gotta haul a load of wasabi up to Hokkaido...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:15 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


You remember Ironic Trucker's Hat, right?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:17 PM on August 1, 2008


Anyway, who ever heard of an ironic trucker?

Those irons have to get to the housewares store somehow.
posted by jonmc at 8:21 PM on August 1, 2008


You remember Ironic Trucker's Hat, right?

You mean this?

I'd never seen it, actually: the above is a google search result.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 PM on August 1, 2008


Hipsters haven't worn trucker hats in years! God, you guys are embarrassing me in front of the internet.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:26 PM on August 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


If all those people driving their Hummer H3s from the gated community to the office park aren't ironic truckers, I don't know who is.
posted by box at 8:31 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


nthed. I found myself repeating this in a bar this evening and passing it off as my own opinion. Good call out.
posted by RokkitNite at 8:32 PM on August 1, 2008


Metafilter: passing it off as my own opinion.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:36 PM on August 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


I loath that thread and all like it. Over 230 posts!? I think we must have said everything that needs to be said already.

Can we finally put this frigg'n high school "OMG! Hipster!" thing to rest for Christ sake.
posted by tkchrist at 8:52 PM on August 1, 2008


It's a good and observant comment, but at the same time I think there have been other periods in history which were similar.
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]



It's a good and observant comment, but at the same time I think there have been other periods in history which were similar.


Recent history, even. Club Kids come to mind.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:05 PM on August 1, 2008


Nasreddin's comment was excellent. Of course, those of us who read his site were treated to something of a philosophical primer on the subject a few days ago.

This guy is going to be dangerous, and I mean that in a good way.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:07 PM on August 1, 2008


I knew there was a reason I hated hipsters.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:11 PM on August 1, 2008


Some people are to smart for their own good.
posted by nola at 9:37 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think there have been other periods in history which were similar.

Srlsly, anyone who thinks today's hipsters are something special needs to read some fin-de-siecle (of course I mean the fin of the 19th siecle) Decadent work.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:44 PM on August 1, 2008


that's one of the best comments i've seen here. just hits the nail on the head.
posted by facetious at 9:47 PM on August 1, 2008


And if you've ever tried to hit a nail out of the park, you'll know what an extraordinary feat this is.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:58 PM on August 1, 2008


Srlsly, anyone who thinks today's hipsters are something special needs to read some fin-de-siecle (of course I mean the fin of the 19th siecle) Decadent work.

exactly - if more people read decadent fin-de-siecle 19th century literature...... we can but hope my friend.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:19 AM on August 2, 2008


So, how many bingos did you get today? I got more. Don't worry about it. It's just not a fair game if I walk through the Mission.

Is there some store that specializes in used jeans two sizes too small and tiny U-locks to put in their back pocket? Maybe next to a Vans outlet and a bandanna store?

posted by loquacious at 3:23 AM on August 2, 2008


"to smart for their own good."

No pain, no gain.
posted by pracowity at 3:23 AM on August 2, 2008


I didn't know he played ball.

I think Nasreddin got traded to a contender just before this week's deadline.
posted by lukemeister at 4:09 AM on August 2, 2008


That's all fine and good, but all the analysis is useless once you realize that hipsters are just the new yuppies.
posted by milarepa at 5:12 AM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Anyway, who ever heard of an ironic trucker?

I did. My dad. The man's a born satirist.
posted by orange swan at 5:26 AM on August 2, 2008


My dad.

Cool! But what does he drive? Mack or Peterbuilt?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:34 AM on August 2, 2008


Ever since BJ & the Bear, the concept of a "shallow trucker" has been endangered. They're all, every one of them, doing nothing for hours but sitting in contemplation of the future as it streams towards them at break-neck pace. Ain't no man can do that for years but doesn't have a serious philosophical bent. Or a monkey.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:01 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


A very impressive comment, if you're an undergraduate philosophy major impressed by late-night college bull sessions.
posted by orthogonality at 6:37 AM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


Srlsly, anyone who thinks today's hipsters are something special needs to read...

Srlsly, if you think you've read more than nasreddin, or that he hasn't considered the decadents, you're nuts.

And ortho, that was unworthy of you. Jealous?

Yes, nasreddin is one of the best, most learned, and most thoughtful commenters here. I say we kill him before it's too late.
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


I would certainly not claim to have read more than nasreddin. I was talking to the rest of you.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:24 AM on August 2, 2008


Srlsly, anyone who thinks today's hipsters are something special needs to read some fin-de-siecle (of course I mean the fin of the 19th siecle) Decadent work.

Well, you're right, on some level. That ironic/sensualist standpoint can be found in all sorts of places--Stendhal's The Red and the Black, for instance, where in one scene the protagonist is offered a bound volume of love letters from which he is to copy out missives to the girl he's wooing. Or reflected all over the work of the seventeenth-century poet John Wilmot, earl of Rochester:
Our silly Sex, who, born like Monarchs, free,
Turn Gipsies for a meaner Liberty;
And hate Restraint, tho' but from Infamy:
That call whatever is not common Nice,
And, deaf to Nature's Rule, or Love's Advice,
Forsake the Pleasure to pursue the Vice.
To an exact Perfection they have brought
The Action Love; the Passion is forgot.
'Tis below Wit, they tell you, to admire;
And ev'n without approving they desire.
Their private Wish obeys the publick Voice,
'Twixt good and bad Whimsie decides, not Choice.
Fashions grow up for Taste, at Forms they strike
They know what they would have, not what they like;
Bovy's a beauty, if some few agree
To call him so, the rest to that degree
Affected are, that with their Ears they see.
I guess what I was trying to do with that comment is ground this particular incarnation of that "decadent" mindset historically. Because, generally, you find these aestheticizing countercultures to be more or less out of step with the general premises of the culture around them; today the hipsters are the foremost representatives of the zeitgeist, if anything. But maybe that's just bullshitting.

Meh, it's not really all that impressive. Any analysis of hipsters is post hoc to begin with.

Not that I disagree with you that it's not impressive, but I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at here.

A very impressive comment, if you're an undergraduate philosophy major impressed by late-night college bull sessions.

Yeah, MetaFilter's standards for peer review of comments have really gone down the tubes, haven't they? But more to the point--do you have some kind of problem with me? I've liked many of your posts, so I'm not sure what's going on here.
posted by nasreddin at 8:25 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interesting that he mentioned Springsteen. I'm publicly on record as being a huge Springsteen fan, but the reason why...I've been listening to 'Radio Nowhere' over and over again lately, and it reminds me of certain times in my life, just the existensial loneliness of those periods, and hearing in punches me right in the gut. On the other hand, I've never been the child of a single mother living in the projects and Everclear's 'Father Of Mine' hits me like a ton of bricks as well. Which was probably Art Alexakis' intention, to communicate how he felt. I'm rambling, but I hope I'm making a point
posted by jonmc at 10:18 PM on August 1 [2 favorites +] [!]


But Jon, you listen to Springsteen because you like it, they listen because its cool, in a faux working class guy kind of way.

I saw the Boss last Thursday at Giant Stadium and he still has it. Great show.
posted by caddis at 8:44 AM on August 2, 2008


This an interesting comment but...

Springsteen? Really? We're talking about a man who reached his artistic zenith in the mid to late 70s. Who reached his commercial zenith in 1985.

It's really so far out of left field that it comes off like one of those comical things old people think "the kids" like - "...with your slingshots and your penny candy and your hard rock music..."

I love Springsteen. I went to see Springsteen at Dodger Stadium a few years ago. Trust me, there were no hipsters. There were entertainment lawyers and their kids, showering Clarence Clemons in liberal guilt applause. I loved it, but I can't imagine anything less hip.

I think you were trying to change the facts to fit your focus on the "faux blue collar" type of hipsterism which was prominent a few years back. I don't quite get what you mean about "buying into the system" - did punks not have jobs or use money to live? Walk around SF sometime and look at all the Trustfarians. And if you meant hipsters are the first to be a counterculture while holding "straight" office jobs, what about the mods of the early 60s?

I feel kind of bad b/c a callout like this is an excuse to pick apart a pretty good comment. But I just don't think "hipster" is a specific enough category to be able to draw these kind of academic conclusions about.

Oh and I live in Silverlake and am sort of a hipster. I would NEVER wear a trucker hat or read something by Naomi Klein. I don't really give a shit if someone builds a Starbuck's on my street. I leave that crap to the Che-shirters in Venice.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:01 AM on August 2, 2008


do you have some kind of problem with me?

Holy crap, I had forgotten about that bullshit callout. Srsly, ortho, you look like a complete dick. If you have that much of a problem with nasreddin, I suggest you just ignore him, because trying to poke sticks at him is not doing anybody any good.
posted by languagehat at 9:09 AM on August 2, 2008



I think you were trying to change the facts to fit your focus on the "faux blue collar" type of hipsterism which was prominent a few years back. I don't quite get what you mean about "buying into the system" - did punks not have jobs or use money to live? Walk around SF sometime and look at all the Trustfarians. And if you meant hipsters are the first to be a counterculture while holding "straight" office jobs, what about the mods of the early 60s?

Well, I can't make any claims about the global significance of Springsteen to hipster culture. But the hipsters I'm friends with in NY are big fans of his, mostly because of that blue-collar thing. I really don't know if hipsters in LA are any different--seems like they might be.

The other thing is, I'm not saying "the punks were all so damn authentic! and hipsters have jobs!" At all. What I am saying is that it's possible to be a punk or a hippie while not buying into the system. The real crusties do a pretty good job of avoiding consumerism. Hipsters, on the other hand, are so intimately bound up with consumer capitalism that if you were to take it way from them, hipsterdom as a "movement" (or even collection of vaguely identifiable traits) would just wither away and dissolve. It's not the jobs, it's the kind of things they fetishize.

Actually, the mods (and the teds!) are a good reference point. But I've never really considered them countercultural--maybe just subcultural. I don't know.
posted by nasreddin at 9:27 AM on August 2, 2008


hipster muxtape.
posted by plexi at 9:36 AM on August 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


"As a historian, you should probably have moved a little past Macaulay in theoretical sophistication by now."

Please get over yourself... and do it soon.


do you have some kind of problem with me?

You cared enough to look up this guy's posting history and then post a link to one. That's speaks volumes.
posted by Zambrano at 9:54 AM on August 2, 2008


You cared enough to look up this guy's posting history and then post a link to one. That's speaks volumes.

What exactly does it say? ortho had been the first person to call me out in MeTa and you tend to remember these kinds of things. Anyway, I apologized in that thread, and admitted he had a point.
posted by nasreddin at 10:07 AM on August 2, 2008


I liked Nasreddin's post, but I didn't agree with its basic premise. My observation of the hipsters I've known in many towns leads me to believe that hipsterism is the current default state for an American of the upper-middle class (i.e. family has more than enough money for everything and there is no practical need to be careerist before the mid-20s) who was raised in the suburbs, gets a liberal arts education at a private university, and moves to a city afterwards. It isn't a counterculture, it's Leitkultur for the subset of the society which values cultural literacy and the refinement and expression of personal taste the most highly. Plenty of people from that background with those experiences go other ways, but that's because their values diverge from the norm.

My sense is that what makes it look like a counterculture is that hipsters reflexively conceal those class and geographical origins once they get to the city because they have no purpose in the further development of the identity (since that is a huge group affiliation, not something special). And without those things being obvious, there is a tendency to assume that there is something other than homogeneousness which connects hipsters to each other.

Short version, I basically agree with milarepa. The adbusters article read to me like a very strange assertion of some kind of connection between well-adjusted normal young people acting out on alcohol, and the end of subculture.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 10:13 AM on August 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Noting how much the garage rock hipsters of a couple of years ago pulled from the mods, I think they're a good parallel.

Something I will say, more sidelong directed at Miko than anything else, is that I'm generally annoyed when people dismiss current culture(s) on the grounds that they have structural or aesthetic precursors. I guess I prefer Heraclitus to Xenophones (and Democritus to both) in constructing a model for subcultural recursion.
posted by klangklangston at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


(It's also possible that there are multiple valid ways of regarding "hipsters," or that "hipster" is an over-broad designation and thus only vaguely meaningful.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on August 2, 2008


languagehat writes "And ortho, that was unworthy of you. Jealous?"

No, I don't think so. What I was keying off of, I think, was that Nasreddin's comment spent too much ink on letting know that he knows about the Romantics, Derrida, Nietzsche, the Chartists, the Anabaptists, and the Illuminati (yes, I am exaggerating slightly) before he made his point.

This reminded me of what (admittedly, intelligent and perceptive, but also tedious) undergrads do, when they've first learned about some topic: they just have to tell you all about it!, and mostly to make sure that you know that they know all about it.

Well, cheers and congrats young man, you're very well read, but don't let letting me know that get in the way of making your point.

(You can see the same thing in new junior hires, and in nephews under five;only in the last case is it endearing.And admittedly, I'm just slightly grumpy today -- my new laptop'sspace bar doesn'twork toowell.)
posted by orthogonality at 10:37 AM on August 2, 2008


nasreddin writes "But more to the point--do you have some kind of problem with me?"

Sorry, I didn't read your comment until I replied to languagehat's. Please see that for an answer. But to reply to you directly, I think you're very well read, maybe even erudite, but bit too interested in demonstrating that. Which is typical and forgivable in bright young men, and I'm sure like most others you'll get over it, without any lasting harm.
posted by orthogonality at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2008



Well, cheers and congrats young man, you're very well read, but don't let letting me know that get in the way of making your point.


The thing is, if you take all the name references and intellectualization out of my comment, there's no point there at all. Just because I like to talk about thinkers and movements that have acquired a patina of intellectual prestige doesn't mean I'm trying to show off. It means that's how I relate to reality. I don't give a damn if you think I'm erudite, I just want to have a conversation about ideas.

Also, while I see where you're coming from, the immense "there, there, my lad" condescension in your comment is quite offensive.
posted by nasreddin at 10:59 AM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


You cared enough to look up this guy's posting history and then post a link to one. That's speaks volumes.
posted by Zambrano


Volumes about what? It's par for the course here to check other users' histories. It's not like you have to go to the back of the library and submit a request; there's a reason comment histories are hyperlinked. It helps to foster a sense of community and really requires no explanation.

A quick check of your history, Zambrano, does kind of speak volumes to the fact that you've been nothing but a tone deaf asshat since you started posting here a month and a half ago. Lame, drive-by one line, one-sided criticisms in Metafilter, nonsense turds in AskMe, and clueless snipes like the above here in MetaTalk. All written with an injected smugness and pseudo-authoritativeness that shows you have no wish to really engage the rest of us here. You may be fooling yourself, but it's obvious that you don't have a voice and maybe should go somewhere else or lurk more here until can get more of a clue.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:02 AM on August 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


Burhanistan, that's a bit over-the-top, I think.
posted by orthogonality at 11:18 AM on August 2, 2008


Maybe. I'll know better once I've had some caffeine.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 AM on August 2, 2008


nasreddin writes "The thing is, if you take all the name references and intellectualization out of my comment, there's no point there at all."

It's not the content, it's the tone. Thank you for bringing the intellectual heft and all that, but I can't taste the meat for all your seasonings.

nasreddin concludes "Also, while I see where you're coming from, the immense 'there, there, my lad' condescension in your comment is quite offensive."

Exactly! Yes it is, and intentionally so: it's meant to caricature what I find objectionable in your tone.
posted by orthogonality at 11:24 AM on August 2, 2008


John Wilmot, earl of Rochester

I once saw a movie about this motherfucker, featuring JOHN MALKOVICH as KING CHARLES II. Ponder that. The oddest part was, he looked just like the guy. It's funny what a tiny mustache and a gigantic periwig will do.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 11:26 AM on August 2, 2008


Exactly! Yes it is, and intentionally so: it's meant to caricature what I find objectionable in your tone.

Sorry, that's either an exceptionally lame GOTCHA! cop-out or a remarkably unsuccessful caricature. (not that I'm not condescending, but it would've worked better if you had worked in a spurious Latin quote or two and a reference to Bourdieu presented in a vaguely accusatory manner).

In any event, it's okay if my writing style rubs you the wrong way (it does a lot of people), but please don't assume that this means you have to help me fix it. I don't care. Thanks.
posted by nasreddin at 12:06 PM on August 2, 2008


Howd'ya like THEM apples?
posted by carsonb at 12:10 PM on August 2, 2008


This is like the sissiest fight I've ever seen.

*Hands each contestant a copy of Simulacra & Simulation, in French, and rings bell.*
posted by milarepa at 12:26 PM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


On post-caffeine reflection, my above comment was on the level and necessary, dubious usage of semicolon notwithstanding.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:30 PM on August 2, 2008


Burhanistan, I must confess: every time I see you post I think of Burhan Öçal.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:39 PM on August 2, 2008


Metafiler:a patina of intellectual prestige
posted by fixedgear at 12:50 PM on August 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Burhanistan, that's a bit over-the-top, I think.

No, it was completely accurate. And I'm saddened that you feel no need to apologize for being a complete dick, or even to back down a little. Your "I'm just being condescending for your own good, you little twit" approach is far more offensive than whatever showoffiness you're discerning in nasreddin, and the end result of your approach, if (doubtless) not your conscious goal, would be to reduce MeFi to all LOL all the time (which it veers dangerously close to as it is). It would seem that nasreddin actually considers this a venue for serious discussion, which at its best it can be.

You really should look to the beam in your own eye.
posted by languagehat at 1:30 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which is typical and forgivable in bright young men

I'm fucked.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:04 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


reduce MeFi to all LOL all the time (which it veers dangerously close to as it is)

It also veers dangerously close to shrill know-it-all all the time.
posted by milarepa at 2:17 PM on August 2, 2008


Is there anything that exemplifies the tedium of the hip more than someone's expressed disgust for another's exuberance?

ortho, you'd better serve your high standards for discourse by drawing from your deep wells of maturity a bit of tact, and keeping your mouth shut about how stupid and tedious we youngins are.

I'm sorry to jump in emotionally, but it shakes me up when people don't appreciate that the cross pollination of abilities, fluencies, and intelligences is one of the most powerful and lasting assets that an environment of learning can be blessed with.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:34 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm impressed with the bean-pondering skills displayed in nasreddin's comment.
posted by mullingitover at 2:44 PM on August 2, 2008


Nasreddin:The thing is, if you take all the name references and intellectualization out of my comment, there's no point there at all.

That's not true. In fact, quite the opposite: it's a very interesting point that is partially obscured by the name references and intellectualization. Well, that's how it looks from my armchair, anyway. In the orthogonality callout thread mentioned above, Bigmusic linked to this interesting discussion on nasreddin's blog, between a commenter (william) and nasreddin. I think that william makes orthogonality's point a bit more lucidly than orthogonality did, or than I could. There's one school of thought, the william/orthogonality(I think?)/Kwine school, that holds that the more clearly and simply an idea is expressed, the easier it is to tell whether it is correct. There's another school that holds...something else. I dunno what they hold, I didn't go to that school, but I think that they get to publish in critical theory journals and such. Anyway, that's the nasreddin school, he's happy with his school, lots of people on the site like his contributions, and I'm happy he's around because he's probably the most well read person on the site, even though I find the structure of his comments to be irritatingly obscure.
posted by Kwine at 2:58 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate that stupid "plate of beans" meme. If ever there was a slogan for anti-intellectualism, it's that.
posted by painquale at 3:15 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


languagehat writes "And I'm saddened that you feel no need to apologize for being a complete dick, or even to back down a little. "

I'm not being a dick. My initial comment was that I didn't find nasreddin's comment any more impressive than what is heard in many an undergraduate bull-session. The comment had some merit, but it suffered from pretension. But only after you replied to my comment did I mention the pretension, and that I found it a bit thickly applied.

No, I don't want to reduce Mefi to all LOL (as I've said or implied in numerous comments). But (as nasreddin admits other have similarly complained) I find nasreddin's tone to be condscending, and I find his famous-name-dropping annoying and too precious. I'd like serious comments, yes, but without the showy pretension.

But don't take my word for it, let's peruse nasreddin's comments:

The comment this thread is about mentions: The Romantics, the Symbolists, Rimbaud, the Surrealists, the Beats, the hippies, Rousseau, the New Left, Frantz Fanon, the punks, the Nation of Islam.Derrida, Nietzsche, postmodernity, Naomi Klein. Yeah, we get it, you're a Liberal Arts major.'

In a comment three days ago, nasreddin notes that an author is no "Proust". He's so cool, nasreddin has read Remembrance of Things Past!

Four days before that: "The Tories as a tiny offbranch of the Whig mainstream? Pfft." and "'80s" is not a genre, dipshit" and "Also, I claim to be an expert on the eighteenth century". nasreddin be schooling us, yo!

Just so we don't miss his point (that he's an expert), nasreddin tells us he feels"gilty" for not having read all of the "canon" because "I've selected intellectualism and learning to be one of the standards by which I measure my life." But just so we in the great unwashed don't feel bad, nasreddin explains it's like he's a carpenter, and the rest of us are welders, for whom lesser different standards apply. Thanks big guy! (Did nasreddin choose to call himself a carpenter because that's what Jesus did, or was that subconscious gravy?)

Then he demonstrates his adeptness at situational irony with these comments. He then winks at us (emphasis added): War and Peace, at some 1400 pages, is "a neat little book".

But (how unsurprising that our young Superman loves Nietzsche!) it was Also Sprach Zarathustra, which nas first read at age 12!, that
has become one of the most important books in my life. Did I even really read it that first time? Did I deserve to check that box? Doesn't even asking that question poison your experience of literature?
Awww! look, is that false humility? Amidst rhetorical questions? Isn't that precious?!

Of course, nasreddin is better than some people: "People who think art is progressive, like technology, are often brutes". And for those of us who enjoyed Gravity's Rainbow, nas wants us to know he's read it twice, and it's really not that good: "As someone who made it out the other end twice, I'm warning you--it's not really all that worth it."

Don't enjoy Russian novels? nas not only has you covered, but he'll helpfully give you the title in its original Cyrillic, demonstrating once again that he's here to impress, not inform: "Maybe try Erofeev's Москва-Петушки?" No, not pretentious at all. Because nas is an intellectual. Not that he's self-proud, he'll even joke about it, as long as you get the point: "As a 'llectual, I am not amused."

Want to discuss Sartre's Being and Nothingness? Well, ok, but nas can trump that: he liked "Being and Time much better." Oh, but you can't really understaand the later unless you take nas's advice and "Read the first couple of chapters of John Barth's The End of the Road for an illustration of this."

And that, folks, is just nasreddin's comments this week. I haven't got the stomach to keep digging. But there's a theme: In nearly every post, nas has to trump somebody.

It's like having drinks with a wine snob ("well, what you ordered is, hmmf, ok, I guess, but last night I had this exquisite Camus '67, and...") or hearing a redneck brag about his souped-up Camaro ("I got eight cylinders and a super-charger and an air-compressor and a...."), or chatting with the guy who explains that you haven't really golfed until you've golfed Scotland, which he happens to have done last week, and let him tell you all about it.

Nasreddin has always read more, is more intellectual than thou, and can't open his mouth without mentioning Nietzsche and Derrida. And frankly, I knew similar braggarts in undergrad (and perhaps I even was one) and it's boring as hell. It's not meant to inform us abut anything, it's just to inform us that nasreddin's sure read more than we have, and more obscure titles, and more deeply than we have. It's not a conversation starter, it's a conversation ender, meant to leave us all thinking, "garsh-and-golly, thatt nas he's s so smart, I better not open mah mouf".

And frankly, I can do it too, and have at times. But I avoid it now, because it's foolish youthful pretentiousness that shuts down conversation and serve to aggrandize one's self at the expense of others. Again, I'm not for "all LOL all the time", but equally I'm not for pseudo-intellectual braggarts who want to trump everyone, who tell us they're "experts" because they're at university majoring in 18th century lit and minoring in Nietzschean supermaning pretentiousness.
posted by orthogonality at 3:19 PM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


painquale writes "I hate that stupid 'plate of beans' meme. If ever there was a slogan for anti-intellectualism, it's that."

R U SAYIN I R DUM?!!
posted by mullingitover at 3:21 PM on August 2, 2008


There's another school that holds...something else. I dunno what they hold, I didn't go to that school, but I think that they get to publish in critical theory journals and such.

Yeah, you've hit the nail right on the head in your comment. I think clearly expressed thoughts are uninteresting. Obscurity and allusiveness are to me virtues that I try to cultivate. Though I can try to explain why that is (in part because I think complexity is more interesting than simplicity; in part because allusive and obscure works provide a much richer field of interpretation), I have no chance of convincing anyone who isn't already sympathetic to my position. It's a matter of stylistic aesthetics, I guess. (If you're interested in some of the presuppositions behind my point of view, I'd recommend checking out Richard Lanham's Style: An Anti-Textbook, which is really more of a pamphlet than a textbook, but makes a compelling case.)

I try not to assume that the dry and sterile prose of many computer science people is a reflection on their intellect or personality, but rarely does my kind get the same kind of charity in return.

he's probably the most well read person on the site

This, on the other hand, is so far from true it's ridiculous.
posted by nasreddin at 3:21 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


he's probably the most well read person on the site

See, I don't get that. Why do you think he's the most well read? There are a lot of well read people on this site who don't feel the need to name drop in order to appear so. He name drops the most, and a lot of people, judging by this thread, jump up on his lap because of it, which is probably why he does it in the first place. It's his right to do, I could really give a shit, but saying he's the most well read because he does that is just silly.
posted by milarepa at 3:22 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


"gilty" is my misspelling, nasreddin spelled it correctly and I mis-typed. (My new laptop, an eee 901, has a horrid keyboard, and regularly skips keys.)
posted by orthogonality at 3:23 PM on August 2, 2008


Previews for wimps...still should have done it though.
posted by milarepa at 3:24 PM on August 2, 2008


posted by orthogonality at 6:19 PM on August 2 [+] [!]

Man, you trippin'.
posted by nasreddin at 3:24 PM on August 2, 2008


hearing a redneck brag about his souped-up Camaro

I know quite a few people you'd label rednecks and none drive a camaro. You're getting your stereotypes mixed up. I know, it's tough sometimes, but try harder.
posted by justgary at 3:30 PM on August 2, 2008


milarepa writes "There are a lot of well read people on this site who don't feel the need to name drop in order to appear so. "

Exactly. Omiewise, for example, is a big fan of Proust, and has read most if not all of Proust's work. But except in actual discussions of Proust or Remembrance of Things Past, Omiewise doesn't make haste to inform you that he's read those works. He doesn't name drop. languagehat (who's calling me out for calling out nasreddin) is very knowledgeable about language, but he doesn't throw that in people's faces.

There are any number of well informed, well read, erudite, even expert people here, but only nasreddin seems so preoccupied with letting us know that he's erudite and an expert and really smart with a capital "SM". And it comes off as insecure and juvenile, to me at least.

(And yes, I know the preferred translated title is n search of Lost Time, but I encountered the first translation first,sothat's what I use.)
posted by orthogonality at 3:34 PM on August 2, 2008


At last, the veil of "let me give you some advice, son" comes off, revealing the prick within.
posted by nasreddin at 3:39 PM on August 2, 2008


Well. The "hmmmm, yes well, as Voltaire opined" school of discourse can be a little bit tiring, and I gotta admit, I have a tendency to scan over nasreddin's longer posts and keep going. Not to be a dick, I'm just saying...but it does kind of seem to me that prompting a conversation about what a blowhard someone can be is itself the bigger dick-move, unless that person has otherwise antagonized you, and even then the crux of the callout should, it seems to me, concern said antagonism, which this doesn't appear to, as there does not appear to be any antagonism happening, unless nasreddin just (evidently) being himself is itself to be construed as an act of aggression, which if so...I mean...damn, yo.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:40 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


For the record though, I don't understand getting all bent out of shape about it. It can be fun write like that. I'd love to be able to mention of the works of Chandrakirti or Lermontov once in a while (hey I did it!). I mean, if it gets on your nerves that much, just pass over the comments where his name appears at the bottom. It's better that way....for everybody.
posted by milarepa at 3:44 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kwine: it's a very interesting point that is partially obscured by the name references and intellectualization

That's often the case with critical theory analyses, but I didn't get that at all from this particular comment of nasreddin's. Actually, more than being impressed with the content (which I was), I was particularly impressed with his being able to write in that style, and use what I take to be technical terms, all the while remaining clear enough to garner hundreds of favorites. When he introduces some obscure terminology, he defines it. For example, he defines "aporia" when he says, "never resolves the aporia, the gap between the authentic and the fake". I'd normally have no clue what "aporia" means, so that was helpful. For the most part, the name-dropping was actually relevant and put things in in historical perspective. And given that the point of the comment was to put hipsterhood in historical perspective, it was necessary. Good comment, nasreddin.

As an aside, one thing I'll never get about this style of writing is the reliance on bad puns. There's not much in nasreddin's comment, but there is a bit ("tricknology" and "hipocrisy"). Dumb puns pervade critical theory writing. There's probably some assumed theoretical justification for it - commonalities in language create commonalities in things or somesuch - but it comes across to me as if a whole segment of academia decided that there was something deep about Dorky Dad Humor. The "word" I've seen all the time that I really can't stand is "(w)hole". Here's a template for generating the titles of literary theory articles:

dumb but supposedly deep pun + colon + overlong and impenetrably abstruse thesis

(Actually, I kind of like the word "tricknology". I'm pretty sure I'll be a Dorky Dad someday. Also, Lord Rochestor frickin' rules)
posted by painquale at 3:46 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


kittens for breakfast writes "but it does kind of seem to me that prompting a conversation about what a blowhard someone can be is itself the bigger dick-move,"

Again, all I initially said was I didn't find his comment so impressive. It was only after languagehat and nasreddin implied I had ulterior motives for that opinion that I went into cases.
posted by orthogonality at 3:47 PM on August 2, 2008


orthogonality, are you the motherfucking letters police?

Jesus God, dude, take a walk outside.
posted by plexi at 3:49 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm going to explain my position; you're free to accept my explanation or not, that's none of my concern.

The reason I rely on name-dropping and things like that is that I am convinced that my personal opinions about whatever are usually not only uninteresting but irrelevant. The way my mind, such as it is, functions is by stringing together connections between various great thinkers that I'm captivated with at any given moment. I want to rely on them to make my argument for me. Sometimes, this works well, and it seems to be a good fit for the kind of academic work I do. Sometimes it fails miserably, and is liable to be interpreted as just being an arrogant loudmouth--you obviously don't need to be orthogonality to read many of my comments in that light. But it's not a negotiable thing; it's just how I think.
posted by nasreddin at 3:51 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


painquale: tricknology.
posted by nasreddin at 3:53 PM on August 2, 2008


'Tricknology' is a Five-Percenter... oh, never mind.
posted by box at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Tricknology is not simply “plain ol’ trickery”; nor is it exemplified by your average street hustler’s con game. Tricknology denotes a much more subtle and sophisticated level of deception. The “science of trick knowledge” means the science of using respected fields of knowledge (or one’s official or expert capacity) in a cunning, devious or deceitful manner. The term “tricknology,” therefore, denotes the usage of any of the following techniques for purposes of fraud, deception, or the creation of ideological hegemony: sophistry, academic jargon, legalese, double-speak, psycho-babble, disinformation campaigns, lying with statistics, political chicanery, spin-doctoring, double-dealing, playing both sides against the middle, creating smoke-screens, subliminal advertising, media manipulation, the manufacture of consensus, etc. Of course, tricknology also includes any artifice used to divide and conquer people and any legally-sanctioned scheme employed by the wealthy to defraud poor people of their money or property ... In short, tricknology is what the oppressor uses to keep black people deceived, misdirected, misinformed, baffled, duped, confused, torn between two poles, lulled into false security or false consciousness, distracted, diverted, un-alert or preoccupied, and powerless and impoverished.
posted by nasreddin at 3:55 PM on August 2, 2008


Dumb puns pervade critical theory writing. There's probably some assumed theoretical justification for it - commonalities in language create commonalities in things or somesuch - but it comes across to me as if a whole segment of academia decided that there was something deep about Dorky Dad Humor.

I don't think even most academics -- who are easily fooled into thinking all kinds of things have depth -- think there's anything deep about punning; a fondness for puns is just an unfortunate and all-too-common byproduct of being a lit nerd, because people who like words often enjoy wordplay.

(I myself associate puns with Cheetos, Sprite and reams of graph paper penciled up with miles of imaginary subterranean passages, but that may be because I also associate puns with those Piers Anthony novels my friends were all reading when I was thirteen. I went for Stephen King and Clive Barker instead, and I'm pretty sure wound up much happier for it.

That said, "hipocrisy" isn't all that bad.)

posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:58 PM on August 2, 2008


And hiphoprisy is the greatest luxury.
posted by box at 4:00 PM on August 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


kittens for breakfast summed up my take on it pretty well. (on preview, his Voltaire comment, not the one just above, which is fine and all but not my point). Anyone who says:

Obscurity and allusiveness are to me virtues that I try to cultivate

is not someone I want to spend much time on, so I don't. It's easy, ortho, and I encourage you to walk away.

This thread is pretty fun, though.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:01 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread is pretty fun borderline insufferable, though.

FTFY
posted by ornate insect at 4:20 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dumb puns pervade critical theory writing.

Guilty. But anybody who's seen Warhol's Blow Job will agree, it is a boregasm.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:25 PM on August 2, 2008


All this, this Hipster bullshit discussion, is the logical extension of Mefi's propensity to throw down taste wars. They are always the longest and most contentious threads... filled with back patting and insults.

You know what the definition of a Taste Warrior is? It's thinking your smart because of what you like and don't like. Which is simply an inverted way of saying if somone likes what you don't they must be stupid. I have identified you as stupid. Yay me. I am awesome.

There are too many people on this board working up a sweat to prove how smart they are and it's most often those people who are the most insulting and rude. It's not intellectual. It's essentially insecurity. And. It's fucking childish and BORING.

We can have smart, witty, interesting discussions. But the best ones are about why you do like something. Not why somebody else shouldn't like what they like.

Remember. In the coming Taste Wars your sides will be picked for you.
posted by tkchrist at 4:29 PM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


I only think I'm smart when I notice other people's typos.
posted by Caduceus at 4:39 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree somewhat with tkchrist, although I think the larger reason why both this thread and the other hipster thread are so deeply unsatisfying, pedantic, overwrought, is b/c there isn't that much to discuss in the first place. "Hipsterism" as a topic is too gaseous to generate much light. As a result, both threads are more reflections of people's own pet interests and theoretical preoccupations. Sometimes when there are no particulars to orient a discussion, the vacuum is filled with petty digressions and the waxing of metaphysical moonshine.
posted by ornate insect at 4:48 PM on August 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have a tendency to scan over nasreddin's longer posts and keep going.

Ditto, and there's a couple other folks whose posting style I sometimes recognize and skim or skip, just as I'm sure there's people who read my quips and roll their eyes at that Asterix guy who thinks he's sooo fucking amusing. But hell, not everything has to appeal to everyone, and while it's impossible for everyone to get along, it's not impossible for folks to treat each other with respect.

If someone is talking shit, by all means go at 'em. But if you just don't like how they talk, take a deep breath and scroll on, rather than starting a conflict where there's no good reason for one.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:57 PM on August 2, 2008


And frankly, I can do it too, and have at times. But I avoid it now, because it's foolish youthful pretentiousness that shuts down conversation and serve to aggrandize one's self at the expense of others. Again, I'm not for "all LOL all the time", but equally I'm not for pseudo-intellectual braggarts who want to trump everyone, who tell us they're "experts" because they're at university majoring in 18th century lit and minoring in Nietzschean supermaning pretentiousness.

Wow. Ranty. Soooooo what you're saying is, yes, you're jealous? Or that you were psychologically damaged by a literature-spouting fedora-wearing serial killer who tortured you with essay questions on comparative literature of increasing difficulty and so now you must don your Outrage Cape and Fight the Scourge of Over-Literacy?
posted by desuetude at 4:58 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


the waxing of metaphysical moonshine

Boy, does that shit ever burn going down.
posted by nasreddin at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2008


Man, what's with the sudden influx of people who think that discussion about hipsters is useless and boring and empty and "too gaseous to generate much light" and all sorts of other mixed metaphors? It's a social phenomenon, so there is stuff to talk about. I thought that thread was pretty impressive in not dissolving into hipster-hate like so many others. But just because it's about hipsters and people are using words like "authenticity", the hipster-hater-haters come in and say stuff like this:

...it's most often those people who are the most insulting and rude. It's not intellectual. It's essentially insecurity. And. It's fucking childish and BORING.

Tu quoque!
posted by painquale at 5:16 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love threads like this because I get to feel like a better person simply for having not participated in them. But then I have to go and ruin it by posting a comment like this. I guess I'm not a good person after all.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:19 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


And frankly, I knew similar braggarts in undergrad (and perhaps I even was one)

You shock me. What is it they say about pointing out in others the faults we hate in ourselves?

and it's boring as hell.

Not to me.

It's not a conversation starter, it's a conversation ender, meant to leave us all thinking, "garsh-and-golly, thatt nas he's s so smart, I better not open mah mouf".


Not to me. It leaves me thinking "Gosh, that's interesting," and usually going to look stuff up.

And frankly, I can do it too, and have at times. But I avoid it now, because it's foolish youthful pretentiousness

Youthful pretentiousness? If your profile is to be believed, you're 38, for Pete's sake. From my venerable point of view, you and nas are in the same ballpark. The difference between you is you've somehow become ashamed of the intellect; he, thank god, hasn't, and hopefully never will.

But you're young, and perhaps you'll grow out of it. And then maybe you can make comments as thought-provoking as nasreddin's, and stop going around pissing on people who use their brains in public.
posted by languagehat at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


metafilter: It's a social phenomenon, so there is stuff to talk about.
posted by ornate insect at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2008


painquale defends nasreddin, saying: "For example, he defines "aporia" when he says, "never resolves the aporia, the gap between the authentic and the fake". I'd normally have no clue what "aporia" means, so that was helpful."

I'm not convinced that this is an accurate reading of the sentence. I'm open to correction here, but I don't think that aporia means the gap between the authentic and the fake. I think nasreddin is saying that the gap between authentic and fake is the aporia — aporia meaning an impasse, a central contradiction or paradox.

I had much sympathy for nasreddin until he said, "obscurity and allusiveness are to me virtues that I try to cultivate". If I'm right about painquale's (entirely understandable) misinterpretation of nasreddin's aporia sentence, it's a data point suggesting that nasreddin's cultivated obscurity merely results in well-meaning people completely misreading his point, rather than any new 'rich fields of interpretation' opening up.
posted by matthewr at 5:40 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


orthogonality, while nasreddin's posts can be rather obscure to me, and perhaps even a bit name-droppy, I've never felt that he was talking down to me or anyone else. I found that the post in question was interesting, even if I haven't heard of half the references, even if what I got out of it (that hipsters are nihilistic,) was no what he infact meant, and I disagreed that it's a counterculture (although he feels it's a subculture, so I guess we do agree). In general, while I disagree strongly that obscurity is a virtue or should be sought out, nasreddin never struck me as a person who is predominatly a blowhard or pompus.

He doesn't seem to name drop to brag, but to share, and that's something I identify with, and he dosen't require that those he converses with to write in his style or be conversant with any particular reference he makes. His writing, unlike other namedropping or braggy types, is generally not about shutting down the conversation, but about continuing it, whether or not others in the conversation are as educated in his references as he is.

To be honest, and I'm not trying to be prejorative here, you long post, orthogonality, seems more based on an insecurity or jealousy, either of nasreddin's educational background, or some percieved or imagined respect or accolades he might get here for being a bit showy. I've had (and probably still do a bit,) a jealousy and insecurtiy of others who are obviously better educated than me, but I've grown more comfortable with my own strengths and my own valuable insights and thoughts, and so I only say this because it just seems familiar to me. I won't deny that I've seen nasreddin occasionally post something a bit snobbish or condescending, but nohing worth a 900 word post over, and orthoganlity, I have seen you post very long writings here that drip with condescension towards your 'lessers,' and perhaps you should look to yourself before posting so much about someone else.
posted by Snyder at 5:49 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not convinced that this is an accurate reading of the sentence. I'm open to correction here, but I don't think that aporia means the gap between the authentic and the fake. I think nasreddin is saying that the gap between authentic and fake is the aporia — aporia meaning an impasse, a central contradiction or paradox.

Well, in Derrida's thought as I understand it (judging from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry, very very poorly), the aporia is a general term describing a wide range of notions clustered around the idea of the paradox or the irresolvable dilemma that nonetheless yields some sort of more interesting reconfiguration of the problem when approached properly.

So in the context of the argument I was making, I was trying to characterize the quest for authenticity as containing an aporia--in that sentence, the gap between the authentic and the fake is what constitutes the aporia. In other words, the structure was "general term, explanation of use of general term in context."

I could have worded it better (if I understood Derrida better), but that's what I meant. It's also quite possible that I've gotten it all wrong and that there's no aporia here at all.
posted by nasreddin at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2008


Also, I should add that the particular aspect of Derrida's aporias I find relevant here is the fact that they often take the form of conflicting demands, one of which is absolute and moral and the other is based on more everyday-rationalistic kinds of calculations. In this case, I think the demand for authenticity on the one hand, and hipsterdom's inability to move past the surface on the other, fits that outline pretty well.
posted by nasreddin at 6:00 PM on August 2, 2008


I don't hang out on MeTa much, but this is very interesting. If the article is a cup of espresso, you know, then the OP would be the froth, and this would be sort of the froth of the froth, all whipped up, and then in the middle of all this froth the eggs hatch and then there's all these little frogs everywhere going PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEP.... That's what I think of when I think of froth.

MetaFilter: a nice cuppa with a little bit of froth.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:08 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, I think painquale quite reasonably interpreted the parenthesis in your sentence as helpfully telling the reader what the word "aporia" means, when in fact you were telling the reader what you think the aporia in this context is.

I think this is an object lesson in the fact that over-indulging in unexplained jargon and obscurity, in combination with a flowing writing style, can result in laymen (however intelligent and well-meaning) completely misunderstanding your sentences.
posted by matthewr at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2008


Wait a minute...Jacques Derrida....left wing, Winnipeg Jets, right?
posted by jonmc at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think this is an object lesson in the fact that over-indulging in unexplained jargon and obscurity, in combination with a flowing writing style, can result in laymen (however intelligent and well-meaning) completely misunderstanding your sentences.

Fair enough. But if the laymen manage to misinterpret something I write in a way that feels good and interesting, more power to them. I'm not one to stand for authorial intent, especially since half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying.
posted by nasreddin at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2008


metafilter: half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying
posted by ornate insect at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying.
posted by mullingitover at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2008


Damn, beat me to it!
posted by mullingitover at 6:24 PM on August 2, 2008


If I'm right about painquale's (entirely understandable) misinterpretation of nasreddin's aporia sentence, it's a data point suggesting that nasreddin's cultivated obscurity merely results in well-meaning people completely misreading his point

Well, I guess I should say that I was feigning dumb a little bit when I wrote that sentence. I did know that 'aporia' meant something like an impasse.

But I also know that it's a word that gets tossed around a lot by people who use the word 'authenticity', and so I did walk away from nasreddin's comment thinking that in cultural studies it might often be specifically used to talk about the gap between the authentic and the fake. Looking over the comment again though, I'm not sure that's a fault of nasreddin's rather than my own misreading. His comment doesn't imply that 'aporia' means "gap between the authentic and inauthentic"; it can just as easily be read as saying that the gap is one type of aporia. It was a pretty poor example of me to pick out, I guess. (On preview, yes, you guys have it right.)

Still, in light of nasreddin's admission that he aims for obscurity, maybe I shouldn't be defending clarity in his writing. I still like the comment and his contributions.
posted by painquale at 6:30 PM on August 2, 2008


As an aside, I've always vaguely felt that even if critics conclude that the concept of authorial intent is a fallacy, authors are much better off ignoring them and getting on with the business of writing as if authorial intent were a perfectly valid idea.
posted by matthewr at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2008


because I think complexity is more interesting than simplicity

At some point, I bet you'll probably realize that contrived complexity is way more boring than elegant simplicity. I don't mean that as an insult, just a thought.
posted by milarepa at 6:39 PM on August 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


At some point, I bet you'll probably realize that contrived complexity is way more boring than elegant simplicity.

You may be right. But I sure have met a lot of people who talk up the virtues of understated elegance, and very few people who write anything even remotely approaching it. And generally they veer off towards the simplistic and the caricatured rather than the overcomplicated.
posted by nasreddin at 6:46 PM on August 2, 2008


The fact is though, very few people write anything truly complex, either. They cram writing full of references trying to sound like Nabokov or Borges or whatever, and it's really just a hot mess that's not remotely complex cuz it's not saying much at all.

I am sure you would hate it if I oversimplified Derrida or Baudrillard. It's easy for you see how stupid that would be. What I was saying is that eventually you'll see that "overcompleximifying" things is just as unfortunate. When you oversimplify something complex, it loses its beauty and subtlety. When you overcompleximify something refined and simple, it too loses its beauty and subtlety. Contrived complexity is just as bad as excessive simplicity.
posted by milarepa at 7:01 PM on August 2, 2008


When you oversimplify something complex, it loses its beauty and subtlety. When you overcompleximify something refined and simple, it too loses its beauty and subtlety. Contrived complexity is just as bad as excessive simplicity.

I'll buy that. I guess what I was talking about in my original comment was not which is the worse stylistic fault, but which is the better ideal to aspire to. That's where the difference in taste comes in.
posted by nasreddin at 7:07 PM on August 2, 2008


Fair enough. But if the laymen manage to misinterpret something I write in a way that feels good and interesting, more power to them.

Oh my...oh my GOD, dude. On so many levels. I...oh my fuckin' God.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:14 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The priestly Egyptian hierophants and Chinese Mandarins were the aristocrats of language, kind of like investment bankers talking about hedge funds, and they aimed to create a language indecipherable by the plebes. Likewise, to aim for obscurity is to court pedantry and irrelevance. It is in some sense a deeply conservative impulse. Language is, among other things, a mode of exactitude: even when one strives to be impressionistic (as in a tone poem), one's language seeks a kind of semantic fidelity to one's stream of thoughts. Not even Gertrude Stein, Mallarmé or Joyce, with all their modernistic frenzy, could fully absolve themselves of the semantic conviction that underlines language--and they were at least writing in genres where poetic license takes precedence over standard modes of intelligibility. Language may be a "game," but it's not a parlor game: it's not a wholly inconsequential one. Regardless of what Derrida says. Unless we're all committed to making metafilter a rarefied salon or opium den of literate experimentation, with each of us acting as poet-tricksters...wearing our smoking jackets while reclining on chaise lounges, feeding the pet gibbon fresh persimmons, we must participate in the unspoken contract of semantic agreement that frames our everyday language and makes it possible. This is a forum after all.

half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying

What is one to make of such a statement? It feels like a veil was momentarily lifted. If nr is here being coy, flip, sarcastic, or po-mo ironic, I'm not sure anyone will get it. If nr is here being cavalier yet serious, there may be a real problem here. After all, if language is all just an inconsequential game, in which to have any semantic convictions about what one says or writes is just so much passé logocentrism, then what exactly motivates a speaker or writer? If there is not spirit behind the letter, then why bother? Is it simply the idle and reflexive chattering of the human ego? My questions are mostly rhetorical here, because I suspect nr, whose writing I often like, like all people puts thought and meaning into words. To be aware of what one means is not to be any less "interesting." That is the nature of articulation, and to articulate one's thoughts is the core of the language contract. Some really interesting people know exactly what they want to say. Such a thing does not kill the mystery of language. It adds to it.
posted by ornate insect at 7:30 PM on August 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


Oh my...oh my GOD, dude. On so many levels. I...oh my fuckin' God.

And why not? All that's being said here is that authorial intention doesn't exhaust interpretation, and that even misreading can be productive. There is nothing even remotely controversial about this notion.
posted by Wolof at 7:34 PM on August 2, 2008


desuetude writes "Wow. Ranty. Soooooo what you're saying is, yes, you're jealous?"

No.

What I'm saying is, I think nasreddin's a fraud and a show-off, a bunch of fancy talk that means nothing, the Wizard of Oz.

And in his later comments in this thread, he pretty much admits it, though of course he obscures that, as usual, with pretty and pretty meaningless verbiage.

And while I enjoy intellectual discussion, I abhor fraudulent buncombe.

I abhor it for a number of reasons, but mostly because it works against real thinking, by giving the impression that thinking is nothing more than weaving big words and name-dropping and essentially cocktail conversation. Trust me on this, you need only a modicum of education to spout this crap, as it's mostly performance, not thinking. It's to true erudition what a Fox News pundit roundtable is to real political philosophy: louder, more insistent, more entertaining, but ultimately hollow and empty and useless. It saddens me to see people taken in by this crap.

If all the kids who spent their time furiously mentally masturbating to "Derrida this" and "Foucault that" and "Nietzsche speaks to me" learned just the minimum of biology instead, enough to be usefully employed as lab technicians, we'd all be better served, those kids especially.

It's nothing personally against nasreddin; languagehat can attest that I brought up via Mefimail, a similar fraud by someone else.
posted by orthogonality at 7:39 PM on August 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


even misreading can be productive

saying it can on occasion be fortuitously productive and willfully striving for it, however, are two different things. And it's not clear to me that nr understands that.
posted by ornate insect at 7:44 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


(I think nasreddin is smart and cool but I wish he wouldn't identify himself as an historian, as he did in one comment that I read closely and took seriously because he said that and I believed him. Came to find out he's a college student and felt embarrassed for both of us).
posted by moxiedoll at 7:55 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


His comment was pretentious, but it was also insightful.

I don't think that pretentiousness is a mortal sin in writing.
posted by empath at 8:09 PM on August 2, 2008


Derrida derided Doritos.

Discuss.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:12 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying is, I think nasreddin's a fraud and a show-off, a bunch of fancy talk that means nothing, the Wizard of Oz.

I think that's kind of over the line.
posted by empath at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2008


What is one to make of such a statement? It feels like a veil was momentarily lifted. If nr is here being coy, flip, sarcastic, or po-mo ironic, I'm not sure anyone will get it. If nr is here being cavalier yet serious, there may be a real problem here. After all, if language is all just an inconsequential game, in which to have any semantic convictions about what one says or writes is just so much passé logocentrism, then what exactly motivates a speaker or writer? If there is not spirit behind the letter, then why bother?

I never said it was inconsequential anything, and I certainly won't deny your right to your convictions. I think that language can have immense consequences quite apart from whether it relates to reality in a simple way or not; hell, the chance arrangement of words in a surrealist automatic poem can have immense consequences. When I say I don't believe in the past, I don't believe in an absolute morality, I don't believe in the ability of language to refer (all of which are positions that I hold with varying degrees of conviction), that means precisely nothing for the way I actually behave. It just means I don't want to cede any ground to metaphysical aprioris if I don't absolutely have to.

I'm a pragmatist, as far as these things are concerned. I have any number of reasons for saying something, any number of goals I'm trying to achieve with it--reasons that include rational debate as well as self-gratification, showing off, genuine curiosity, political agitation, the desire to feel connected to someone in this cold and unfeeling world, the pretty arrangement of letters on a page, satisfaction from having constructed a well-written argument, the exercise of power, the defense of liberty, etc. etc. etc.--and it's nonsensical to approach communication from a perspective separate from these goals. Does my comment achieve one or more of the things I have intended for it? If it does, then why the hell does it matter that someone somewhere did not gain access to the platonic truths corresponding to my words?

Now, we can talk about communicating more clearly, to better achieve the goal of rational debate. If someone had misunderstood me when I was presenting at a conference or something, it would be a very valid objection. (Actually, my academic historical writing tends to be a lot more specific.) But since in this particular case I aimed at nothing more than presenting an amusing sketch of a potential historical investigation--vague and flawed, it is true, but still potentially amusing--I'm not all that invested in how it's interpreted in specific cases. If I play a song on guitar, and someone identifies it as late Clash when it's clearly early Clash, does that somehow negate the pleasure they get from listening to it?

I am skeptical about the potential of communicative action and public deliberation to achieve the kinds of things its proponents claim for it. But that doesn't mean I think language must always be a joke. Just that it sometimes is.
posted by nasreddin at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]



(I think nasreddin is smart and cool but I wish he wouldn't identify himself as an historian, as he did in one comment that I read closely and took seriously because he said that and I believed him. Came to find out he's a college student and felt embarrassed for both of us).


Sorry. I don't have a degree. But I have presented at conferences and I have a paper coming out in a history journal.
posted by nasreddin at 8:16 PM on August 2, 2008


Er, just to be clear, I'm not implying that that's all it takes to be a historian. Just that I take my being a fledgling historian pretty seriously.
posted by nasreddin at 8:18 PM on August 2, 2008


What I'm saying is, I think nasreddin's a fraud and a show-off, a bunch of fancy talk that means nothing, the Wizard of Oz.

This is unnecessarily pungent little dish any way you slice it. Cheers to nasreddin for rising above it.
posted by Wolof at 9:29 PM on August 2, 2008


I think nasreddin's a fraud
posted by orthogonality at 3:39 AM on August 3


Sorry. I don't have a degree.
posted by nasreddin at 4:16 AM on August 3


How is nasreddin a "fraud"? Did he apply with false credentials at your trailer park school of misanthropy?

Is your life so little and sad that you have to poison whatever happiness others may take from this website?
posted by plexi at 9:35 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, what did the trailer parks do to deserve inclusion in this nonsense?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:43 PM on August 2, 2008


Tu quoque!

I don't think that means what you think, sparky.
posted by tkchrist at 9:58 PM on August 2, 2008


plexi writes "How is nasreddin a 'fraud'?"

I was referring to his statements "I think clearly expressed thoughts are uninteresting. Obscurity and allusiveness are to me virtues that I try to cultivate" and "half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying". Someone else pointed out his pretensions in implying (I haven't read enough Derrida to pun 'imlying') that he's a proffesional historian.


plexi writes "Did he apply with false credentials at your trailer park school of misanthropy? "

Yes, and for the job of house inbred banjo-player, no less. Yee-haw!
posted by orthogonality at 10:03 PM on August 2, 2008


Someone else pointed out his pretensions in implying (I haven't read enough Derrida to pun 'imlying') that he's a proffesional historian.

For the record, I have never implied that I was a professional historian. I see myself as a historian, in the sense that creative writing majors see themselves as writers. This criticism is about on the same level as "OMG BARACK OBAMA CLAIMED HE WAS A PERFESSER!"
posted by nasreddin at 10:51 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


For the record, I have never implied that I was a professional historian. I see myself as a historian, in the sense that creative writing majors see themselves as writers.

Yeah, I'm not out to stomp on you or anything - you obviously know a lot about history and I'm sure you're well on your way to great things. But different titles mean different things and now that we're all grown ups, you have to be careful about the claims you make. Or - you don't have to, but it might be preferable. I can call myself a writer because I write - but I wouldn't call myself a writer in most contexts because I'd look silly, being that there are published, professional writers of my age. I have a bachelor's in psychology - but if I called myself a psychologist (either as an undergraduate or now) I'd be lying. It was just a suggestion - that it's irksome when someone makes a claim to authority that is emotionally and aspirationally true to them... but not actually and usefully true to the reader.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:02 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not implying I have a big dick. I DO have a big dick. It's just that my body is also so massive in comparison that my dick looks small. BUT IT IS NOT.

And. BTW. I AM a professional Hysterian. Oh yeah? Just watch this:

OH MY FUCKING GOD! PTERODACTYL! RUN FOR YOUR PROUST LOVING LIVES!


See.




Hmmm. Man. I used to be funny. Before the war.
posted by tkchrist at 11:03 PM on August 2, 2008


It was just a suggestion - that it's irksome when someone makes a claim to authority that is emotionally and aspirationally true to them... but not actually and usefully true to the reader.

OK. I'll try to avoid that in the future. I've always attempted to qualify my self-descriptions in that sense, but it looks like I've been careless. I certainly don't mean to pretend to be something I have no claim to.
posted by nasreddin at 11:06 PM on August 2, 2008


I have any number of reasons for saying something

This implies that there are intentions behind your words at any given juncture, and that you are more or less cognizant of those intentions, while this...

half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying

...implies that you have not the foggiest notion of much of what you write or say.

I am not asking for a commitment to a theory of semantics here, I'm asking in everyday language how it's possible to assert both of the above statements. You can't have it both ways.
posted by ornate insect at 11:12 PM on August 2, 2008



I am not asking for a commitment to a theory of semantics here, I'm asking in everyday language how it's possible to assert both of the above statements. You can't have it both ways.


I can give two answers, and I can't decide which of these, or both, I believe. It varies from time to time.

a) When I say "I have any number of reasons for saying something," that refers to the act of making the declaration or comment or whatever, not the specific content of that declaration. Therefore I could fill out much of it with nonsense if it corresponded to my intentions, because the content is not always relevant to the goal.

b) A goal doesn't have to be consciously perceived--I can have a general outline of a statement I want to make, but the content of that statement is determined by the exigencies of different unconscious processes going on inside my head. It can even be aesthetic, in a way: I'm drawn to a way of phrasing something even if I don't really know why.
posted by nasreddin at 11:23 PM on August 2, 2008


And it depends what the definition of "is" is.

There's something remarkable about anyone going to such lengths to avoid being pinned down. While I certainly respect the need we all have for self-expression and the degree of semantic freedom it demands, we don't make all the rules up for language as we go along.

Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but raising inconsistency to the level of a metaphysical prejudice is just stubborn eccentricity.
posted by ornate insect at 11:33 PM on August 2, 2008


Thank you all for reminding me why I chose math.
posted by fleacircus at 11:34 PM on August 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think nasreddin's a fraud and a show-off, a bunch of fancy talk that means nothing, the Wizard of Oz.

He certainly didn't take kindly to my making a similar claim about Sartre :-)

Seems to me that if anybody hit one out of the park in that thread, it was DU, with the very first comment.
posted by flabdablet at 11:36 PM on August 2, 2008


Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but raising inconsistency to the level of a metaphysical prejudice is just stubborn eccentricity.

I just like playing with ideas.
posted by nasreddin at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2008


This used to be such a nice thread.
posted by painquale at 11:42 PM on August 2, 2008


I just like playing with ideas.

I think you mostly like playing with words, and have yet to sufficiently realize the commitments words entail. Moving the goal posts during the game makes it hard for anyone else to play. My only point here was to expose what I thought was a real contradiction: on the one hand, you blithely reveal that much of what you say remains vague even to you, and on the other, you claim that there are intentions behind what you say. This does not seem like a minor contradiction.
posted by ornate insect at 11:47 PM on August 2, 2008


This does not seem like a minor contradiction.

Well, do you have any specific objection to the answers I gave?
posted by nasreddin at 11:57 PM on August 2, 2008


do you have any specific objection to the answers I gave?

At this point, and to borrow your phrase, I only have the vaguest idea of what it is we're talking about anymore. Your "answers," such as they are, don't seem to resolve the particular contradiction I alluded to: my feeling is that it cannot, under close logical scrutiny, be resolved. In fact, I think the answers you gave do exactly what I said I was not asking for: since they seem poised at a level of generality sufficient for a theory of semantics. I'm not looking for a theory of semantics, at least not right now. And I'm not trying to have a "gotcha" moment either, although it perhaps looks that way. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I'll be applying more salt to what you write in the future. Which is weird, since I was initially quite sympathetic with the riff that resulted in this thread.
posted by ornate insect at 12:17 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What I'm saying is, I think nasreddin's a fraud and a show-off, a bunch of fancy talk that means nothing, the Wizard of Oz."

Regarding the comment that prompted this thread, you're full of shit here. He used a fair amount of jargony short-hand, but that's because pomo philosophy is a big, tangled mess and he was alluding to it briefly in order to give a perspective on how "hipsters" could be accepted as a valid class and analyzed as such. The interesting part wasn't the names, it was the fairly elegant context-setting.

That you only saw name-dropping does not mean that name-dropping was the sole substance.

But hey, I over-simplified three pre-Socratics in order to make a brief analogy upthread. I AM FRAUDICUS.
posted by klangklangston at 1:58 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found a copy of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science for a low, low price this week, so I'm the go-to guy for Gilles Deleuze quotes, should you need any.
posted by lukemeister at 2:55 AM on August 3, 2008


Your "answers," such as they are, don't seem to resolve the particular contradiction I alluded to: my feeling is that it cannot, under close logical scrutiny, be resolved

I disagree. What you're saying is:

1. I claim that I have determinate intentions for speaking.
2. I admit [somewhat facetiously, it is true] that I have a only vague idea of what I'm saying.
3. In order to have determinate intentions you need to have a clear idea of what you're saying.
4. Therefore 1 or 2 is false.

I don't think 3 is true, because it is an unsupported assumption, and you provided no argument for it. I can intend to go to the store without a clear sense of how I'm going to get there. I can intend to solve a puzzle while taking many missteps along the way. I can play a language game with a greater or lesser amount of strategy. In the same way, I can intend to achieve certain linguistic goals without a clear idea of what I'm saying. In order for 1 to be incompatible with 2, you have to assume that the act and the intention are the same, which is pretty dumb, unless you're Jesus Christ.

I'm also not sure I understand your complaint about the level of generality of my response. Obviously if my approach is informed by a particular semantic theory, my response to your arguments is going to have to articulate it. Is your intention to pin me down to some kind of basic common semantic theory? Why? And which theory?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I'll be applying more salt to what you write in the future.

Hmm, well, obviously you're within your rights, but that seems a little weird. After all, this is the internet, where no one knows you're a dog--how am I any less trustworthy than any other internet stranger?
posted by nasreddin at 7:31 AM on August 3, 2008


And then taking from his wallet
an old schedule of trains, he'll say
I told you when I came I was a stranger...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:41 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


A stranger is just a friend I haven't met yet.

-Will Rogers
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2008


He doesn't seem to name drop to brag, but to share

Bingo. You hit it out of the park. That's exactly what he does, and to me sharing is the essence of MetaFilter, MeFi at its best. Pissing on people because you don't like their style is MeFi at its worst.

I think nasreddin's a fraud and a show-off, a bunch of fancy talk that means nothing, the Wizard of Oz.

Do you not see that nasreddin has been a perfect gentleman, tolerant and good-humored, throughout your self-indulgent attacks, and you have been getting increasingly nasty, ill-tempered, and repellent? Does this not bother you?

Someone else pointed out his pretensions in implying (I haven't read enough Derrida to pun 'imlying') that he's a proffesional historian.


Learn to spell before you start making smug sub-Derridean puns.

Ooh, that was unfair, wasn't it? See what I did there?

Listen up, kids, I have a story to tell you.

Once there was a lion. He was a proud and noble beast, but he was trapped by hunters who sold him to a circus, and soon his spirit was crushed and he had learned to accept, even to love, the bars that penned him and the whip that tamed him. When the bars were removed, he paced within the square they had delineated. He was not happy, but he was content. He had a life.

Then one day he saw a young lion running free, veering left and right to chase small animals or smell flowers as he chose, roaring occasionally just for the hell of it. He felt a bilious gnawing within him, a rage he could not put a name to. The admiring looks the young lion got were as drops of acid on his hide. But he could not chase, rend, triumph. So he did the only thing he could.

He flung dessicated lumps of his own dung.
posted by languagehat at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


OK, languagehat, that story kicks total ass. Where's it from?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:46 AM on August 3, 2008


In addition, ornate insect, I think you've made some good points (and I respect your writing a lot, which is why I have you listed as a contact), but it seems like the shutting down of an interesting conversation using innuendo, without a clear attempt at a refutation, is not at all in the spirit of analytic philosophy. I'm not even all that far out on left field. E.g.:
I can know what someone else is thinking, but not what I am thinking. It is correct to say "I know what you are thinking," and wrong to say "I know what I am thinking."
(A whole cloud of philosophy condensed into a drop of grammar.)

...

Let us assume there was a man who always guessed right what I was saying to myself in my thoughts. (It does not matter how he manages it.) But what is the criterion for his guessing right? Well, I am a truthful person and I confess he has guessed right.--But might I not be mistaken, can my memory not deceive me? And might it not always do so when--without lying--I express what I have thought within myself?--But now it does appear that "what went on within me" is not the point at all. (Here I am drawing a construction-line.)

- Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, IIxi
posted by nasreddin at 7:51 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]



Do you not see that nasreddin has been a perfect gentleman, tolerant and good-humored, throughout your self-indulgent attacks, and you have been getting increasingly nasty, ill-tempered, and repellent? Does this not bother you?


Well, I did call him a prick. Which I now regret.
posted by nasreddin at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


He flung dessicated lumps of his own dung.

Because you see, HE HAD OPPOSABLE THUMBS ALL ALONG

/ m. night
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:11 AM on August 3, 2008


OK, languagehat, that story kicks total ass. Where's it from?

The direct-to-videoDVD Disney release, The Lion King IV: Out of Africa.

Because you see, HE HAD OPPOSABLE THUMBS ALL ALONG

/ m. night


Co-writer.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


nasreddin--I have marked as favorite your post with the Wittgenstein quotes, and I acknowledge that I think I've achieved what I wanted to, however imperfectly I did this: and that was/is for you to see that there MAY be a contradiction lurking in what you've said here.

I now want to focus on this: I admit [somewhat facetiously, it is true] that I have a only vague idea of what I'm saying. I think everything I'm saying is riding on that "somewhat facetiously," for the degree to which one admits one may be less than clear about what one is saying is the key contextual clue as to how seriously a listener or reader should take that person.

If your point here is that we are not always 100% clear in our intentions, that language is not always transparent or isomorphic to thought, that there is give-and-take, I would very much agree. But language depends on a bedrock and unspoken assumption that a given speaker is not totally making shit up as they go along.

I think this bedrock assumption, being unspoken, changes according to context, but I still think it holds that if someone on a forum such as metafilter says "I only have a vague idea what I'm saying half the time," we have a right, even an obligation, to inquire just what was meant by this comment.

If you remove the "somewhat facetiously" and replace it with "dead seriously," then the statement becomes a dare for anyone to take you seriously. I think you are enjoying playing this line right now, but my whole aim here was to focus on that admission--in order to see how we were supposed to interpret it.
posted by ornate insect at 8:56 AM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
posted by Sailormom at 9:24 AM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Do you not see that nasreddin has been a perfect gentleman, tolerant and good-humored,"


I used to like Nasreddin, although I agreed with some of ortho's larger points, until he was a complete (unprovoked) dickhole in my Lord Whimsy post. His dropping Franklin's rules into the thread was just so off the mark that I lost all respect for him. And the fuck off and die remark was classy. Perfect gentleman indeed.
posted by vronsky at 9:35 AM on August 3, 2008


I used to like Nasreddin, although I agreed with some of ortho's larger points, until he was a complete (unprovoked) dickhole in my Lord Whimsy post. His dropping Franklin's rules into the thread was just so off the mark that I lost all respect for him. And the fuck off and die remark was classy. Perfect gentleman indeed.

I have been a dickhole many times. If this is going to be a referendum on how much of a dickhole I have been, I vote "massive dickhole."
posted by nasreddin at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2008


seconded!
posted by vronsky at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2008


Which is to say that, in the particular context of metafilter, I tend to be led bad places by my reflexive (and poorly-reflected-upon) disgust for certain poses or styles of argument, which means I impulsively say shit that on sober reexamination seems fucked-up and unwarranted. I have been working on this, though, if not with perfect success.
posted by nasreddin at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2008


And that means: sorry, flabdablet, vronsky, and any number of other people I have been a dick to.


If your point here is that we are not always 100% clear in our intentions, that language is not always transparent or isomorphic to thought, that there is give-and-take, I would very much agree. But language depends on a bedrock and unspoken assumption that a given speaker is not totally making shit up as they go along.


I agree with your comment, ornate insect. I'm not denying the fact that you had perfect right to call me out for saying something that seems to be a violation of the ground rules of communication. All I really meant, though, was maybe that I rely more than some people on the exterior, surface level of my statements. I don't think I can make it any more precise than that.
posted by nasreddin at 10:01 AM on August 3, 2008


it's obvious that you don't have a voice and maybe should go somewhere else
posted by Burhanistan at 8:02 PM

According to my mail there are plenty of people who would disagree with you. So, I think I will stay.

I speak for the non-bullshitters. The ones who get bullied and stalked by people like you.

Don't read my short, to-the-point posts if you don't like them. That will give you more time to blather on about all of the things you know.


[This person also emailed me a note saying: "In case you missed it" with a link to his comment posted above.]
posted by Zambrano at 10:09 AM on August 3, 2008


[This person also emailed me a note saying: "In case you missed it" with a link to his comment posted above.]

Don't reference private conversations in public, please. It is bad form.
posted by nasreddin at 10:11 AM on August 3, 2008


I speak for the non-bullshitters.

It's often best to speak only for one's self.
How come I never get any damn mail? Aside from Wendell, that is.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:15 AM on August 3, 2008


especially since half the time I have only the vaguest idea of what I'm saying.

I hope you will continue to cultivate, refine, and extend this capacity to speak without knowing what you are saying, nasreddin, because without it no deep originality is possible, in my opinion. The fact that you can do this accounts I think for the breath of divine inspiration I see so often in your longer comments.

Please be judicious with that salt, ornate insect, the hardening of vessels which can result from overuse endangers the mind as well as the brain, and inspiration is not the only kind of stroke a thinker can experience.
posted by jamjam at 10:21 AM on August 3, 2008


Girls, girls, you're both pretty, and mommy loves you equally. Now pipe down and give it a rest, fuckos.
posted by jonmc at 10:46 AM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


languagehat writes "Once there was a lion."

'hat, you keep saying and implying that I'm jealous of nasreddin. I'm not. What bugs me about him is the same thing that prompted me to mefimail you the my comment (which I was unabletopost because the thread closed) about PhilCubeta:
Is it me, or is this Cubeta character a pretentious fuckwit?

Jessamyn closed the thread, just as I was posting this reply to him; am I mis-reading him?

PhilCubeta writes "Right back at you: Why did Erasmus write the Praise of Folly from behind the mask of Folly? Why did Pope write the Dunciad from behind the mask of Martinus Scriblerus? Why did Swift publish the Tale of the Tub with a Hack as the speaker? Why did John Gay position the Beggars Opera with an introduction by a Beggar? Why did Swift write scurrilous 'autobiographies' of condemned men and sell these bogus bio under the very gallows? "
Maybe I'm a Philistine at heart, but while I love erudition, laid on too thickly it looks to me like a self-aggrandizing display. I have the same reaction, I think, to people who too ostentatiously display anything, whether it's wealth (by throwing around references to everything they've bought) or piety (by telling us how much they pray, and how tight they are with God) or good looks, or connections or whatever.

Displaying erudition is particularly problematic; in my professional (I hope I spelled that right, I admit I'm a poor speller and a worse typist) life, I've too often found that the folks who most confidently string together buzz-words are least likely to really understand them, while conversely, those who really understand a subject understand it often too well to easily explain it to laypersons. One frequently encounters bright young men who know just enough to be dangerously incompetent; perhaps that matters more in a professional where "correct" and "not so correct" have measurable consequences beyond mere differences in opinion over what, if anything, Derrida intended to mean.

Whatever the reason, I am (perhaps too constantly) on the lookout for mountebanks and blowhards and confidence men, whether they wear clerical vestments, or academic gowns, or Medals of Freedom. All of them talk a good game, drop lots of names (whether those names are Jesus, or Mohammad, or Derrida, or "the experts" or "the analysts", or "a highly-placed source"), tie us up in words that sound so wise ("known knowns and unknown knowns"), and then whirl away on their winged words, leaving us with the niggling impression that, if we could just understand what they really meant, we'd know if we've been taken for a ride.

I think that nasreddin's a smart guy, but I think that he knows (as many a smart guys learns) that he can get away with a certain amount of bamboozling by stringing together baffle-gab phrases that sound more profound than they really are. Indeed, later in teh thread he comes pretty close to admitting as much, at leastas I read his statements.

I had no intention of using this thread to point out that the Emperor has few clothes; my initial comment was only that the comment this thread highlights, didn't seem tome to be that profound. It was only after you misattributed my reasons that I felt I had to break it down to cases.

I'm not "out to get" nasreddin, nor am I jealous of him (if I think he's bullshitting, what's there to be jealous of?). And I do think he's well-read, both in areas I feel worth reading (18th Century lit) and in areas I feel are a waste of time (Critical Theory). But I also think he's pretentious and something of a bullshit artist. Not wholly, to be sure, but more than enough to make me, at least, lose his message in the pealing of my bullshit detector.

Responding to my criticism with the ad hominem dismissal that "oh, ortho's just jealous" doesn't answer the charge. I'd more than welcome your substantive refutation, where you parse nasreddin's various comments and demonstrate for me their profundities. I'm sure that I'd learn something substantial from that. Maybe my bullshit detector needs recalibrating (though I doubt that -- again, i think nasreddin is well-read, but I'm as yet unconvinced he adds much that's original). But if you're just going to dismiss my distaste as arising from jealousy, I don't know that there's much more I can say to you, beyond what I've written above.
posted by orthogonality at 11:13 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


This throwdown has all the qualities of a great old-school Usenet alt.philosophy.* flamewar.

Where are the objectivists?
posted by chimaera at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2008


Displaying erudition is particularly problematic; in my professional (I hope I spelled that right, I admit I'm a poor speller and a worse typist) life, I've too often found that the folks who most confidently string together buzz-words are least likely to really understand them

I just bought a book that's an academic study of nudity. it's written in academicish which has accomplished the feat of making nudity boring, which I didn't think was possible. On the other hand I did learn that the word 'naked' started out as the past tense of the verb 'nake,' meaning 'to strip.'

*nakes and relaxes with a beer*
posted by jonmc at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


chimaera writes "Where are the objectivists?"

Shrugging, presumably.
posted by orthogonality at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Responding to my criticism with the ad hominem dismissal that "oh, ortho's just jealous" doesn't answer the charge.

With all due respect, given your behavior in this thread, I would suggest that you have no call throwing the words "ad hominem" around.
posted by nasreddin at 11:31 AM on August 3, 2008


Where are the objectivists?

Chillin' over here, quietly getting whatever the fuck we want. *bzzzzzzzzzzzz*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:32 AM on August 3, 2008


I hereby order all of you outside to get drunk and chase some tail (of whatever variety you prefer). This argument has gone on long enough.
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on August 3, 2008


I'm not "out to get" nasreddin

I'd like to believe you, I really would. I might be able to, too, if you hadn't posted that earlier callout. Having done that, your only honorable course, if you wanted your protestations to be taken seriously, would have been to say nothing negative about him thereafter. You made your point, such as it was, and made it as publicly as humanly possible short of going to his house with a bullhorn. When you follow that up with a further attack in a thread praising him, you're making your animus very apparent. If you don't see it, you need your vision adjusted (not to mention your bullshit detector).

Look, I (like nasreddin!) value you as a MeFite, and I generally enjoy your contributions. It gives me no pleasure to whack you with the rhetoric stick (though, again like nas, I do enjoy my own rhetoric). If someone were to attack you as pointlessly as you're attacking nas, I'd come to your defense as well. But you're being a dick for no good reason I can see, and I'm responding. I can't fathom why you can't simply say to yourself "Eh, I don't care for the guy's style, others do, c'est la vie." Your need to piss on him in public shows something unpleasant about you that if I were you I'd want to address.

Does nasreddin sometimes toss out ideas that might not be supported by firm evidence? Does he enjoy the sound of his own voice? Yes and yes. I too am guilty on both counts, as are a number of my favorite posters. In case you hadn't noticed, this is MetaFilter, not a refereed journal. I come here for a balance between information and entertainment that I don't find elsewhere, and nasreddin is a master of both. I would far rather have him around than someone who posted unimpeachable scholarship on (say) 18th-century literature in a style that made my eyes glaze over. If that's what I want, I know where to find the journals. If that's what you want, you've come to the wrong place. And yes, you are too constantly on the lookout for mountebanks and blowhards and confidence men, if that's what you think nasreddin is. He's a vastly well-read and intelligent guy who enjoys playing around with language and ideas. If you don't care for his style, fine, but to equate him with a con artist shows a sad lack of discrimination and/or a deep animus you seem unable to acknowledge even to yourself.

I used to like Nasreddin, although I agreed with some of ortho's larger points, until he was a complete (unprovoked) dickhole in my Lord Whimsy post. His dropping Franklin's rules into the thread was just so off the mark that I lost all respect for him. And the fuck off and die remark was classy. Perfect gentleman indeed.


Huh? I'm truly baffled. The "fuck off and die remark" was not directed to you or anyone in the thread; it was this amusingly over-the-top characterization of the subject of the post: "Lord Needs-to-Fuck-Off-and-Die, 4th Earl of Wankingham (MP, Upper Head-in-Ass)." For chrissake, that may not be polite but it's utterly standard fare on MeFi, except that this is (as one would expect) sharper and funnier. Other than that, yes, he was perfectly polite in the thread—surely you're not seriously claiming that "dropping Franklin's rules into the thread" was some kind of dreadful violation? Whereas you yourself produced this gem:

Well here is an idea butterstick -- jump in your IROC Z-28, crank the REO Speedwagon, peel out and find another thread. None of us really give a shit what you think.

I think maybe you should rethink your judgment concerning that thread.
posted by languagehat at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2008


Incidentally that lion languagehat was talking about went on to ride shotgun in a sidecar on a vertical wall of death.
posted by Sailormom at 11:42 AM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ortho, you seem to persist in your delusion that anyone actually gives the slightest whiff of a shit about your opinion about my fakeness, how fake my comments strike you as being, your personal experiences with Web 2.0 developers, and so on and so forth. You're a narcissist who thinks his personal judgments are law and then throws a hissy ranting fit when people politely suggest you might be exaggerating. Whether you're jealous, projecting, just an asshole, or a deep and profound judge of the human condition is absolutely irrelevant. Your ejaculations contribute nothing at all to this thread. Go hunt con artists in Washington instead of throwing childish tantrums on the Internet.

♫ ♪ <- a goodbye note from the world's smallest violin.
posted by nasreddin at 11:46 AM on August 3, 2008


Long, long have I searched metafilter. Finally my quarry lays before me. Surely this thread contains ... The Perfect Troll!

But which one is it?

Seriously though, is it all that bad to use elusive prose when discussing something as nebulous and ethereal a concept as the meaning of hipsterdom? I could see the argument if the topic was more serious and concrete. I'd enjoy the colorful language even if I didn't get much meaning from it. As for hucksters and the lyrically insincere, its the responsibility of the reader to sort out the BS from reality.

posted by no_moniker at 11:54 AM on August 3, 2008


I've got to say, this has been one of the most fascinating threads I've read in quite a while. Perhaps it simply means I'm easily swayed by words, but I've never had my opinion of people (or, at least, names with attached words) vary so widely over the course of a discussion. Before this throw-down started, I had high opinions of both nasreddin and ortho. I've often enjoyed comments from both of them.

As fascinating as this has been, though, neither one of you are going to come out of it with my view of you as favorable as it was before.
posted by Caduceus at 11:57 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Moreover, the presumptuousness involved in appointing yourself Authentic Erudition Policeman is just staggering. Who the hell asked you, anyway? Are people not capable of figuring out for themselves whether I'm frontin' or not? Is my posturing so awful that it must be discussed at interminable length over two MeTa threads? Think of the children!

Who gives a shit about me? I'm just one out of 78,000 users, not the most well-read, not the most intelligent, not the fakest. I asked neither for praise nor indictment. I just like intelligent discussion, which is why I came here in the first place. I'm not here for my moral character to be evaluated. And by neurotically going through my comments and applying the most uncharitable reading possible to them, you're only putting me in the spotlight. That's not something either you or I want. So cut it the fuck out.
posted by nasreddin at 11:58 AM on August 3, 2008


Could everybody do me a favor and never, ever start a Meta thread praising me?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:00 PM on August 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


As for hucksters and the lyrically insincere, its the responsibility of the reader to sort out the BS from reality.

Agreed, but the reader is not obligated to sort this out in silence and keep the question to himself/herself. In the question I was trying to raise in my posts up-thread, I was trying to prod nr into sorting this out for us--rather than just passing judgement. I wanted to hear exactly what he meant by his stance of conscious vagueness. I think that clarification proved useful.
posted by ornate insect at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconding Cadeceus, this is a fascinating thread for many reasons. Also, what languagehat said.
posted by no_moniker at 12:03 PM on August 3, 2008


Yeah, I got to agree with nasreddin here. I would have only known he existed before this thread cuz he's that dude I thought liked Nas a whole bunch. But then I read his profle and, alas, it was inclusive as to whether he was a fellow Nas fan. The hand wringing and multiple postings on your part are really counter productive to any rational goal. For example, up thread, nas and I had a back and forth, and by the third exchange I realized we were never going to understand each other, so I stopped responding. Might want to think about that, if not for us, than maybe your blood pressure.
posted by milarepa at 12:16 PM on August 3, 2008


I'm not "out to get" nasreddin, nor am I jealous of him

It looks a lot worse than that, ortho; it looks like you're trying to drive a dangerous rival away from what you claim as your territory by roarings, gnashing of teeth, genital displays, and, of course, copious, stinky, peeing out of boundaries.

The horror of it is, you may succeed. I wouldn't want to subject myself to the kind of small-minded attack you've mounted here if I were nasreddin.

But I warn you: if you do drive him out of here it will only be by the operation of a sort of Gresham's Law, and you will have debased yourself utterly.
posted by jamjam at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2008


Watch out nasreddin, orthogonality is reaching for the poker!
posted by geoff. at 1:07 PM on August 3, 2008


"And that means: sorry, flabdablet, vronsky, and any number of other people I have been a dick to."

Oh, if you are gonna be all classy and apologize then I'm afraid I will just have to accept that apology! Bring out the wine and mead and hashish for my men... and the dancing girls! Slay the fatted calf!
posted by vronsky at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2008


I'm not "out to get" nasreddin, nor am I jealous of him

No. Your motives are entirely pure.

/sarcasm, DUH!!
posted by jonmc at 1:15 PM on August 3, 2008


Moreover, the presumptuousness involved in appointing yourself Authentic Erudition Policeman is just staggering. Who the hell asked you, anyway? Are people not capable of figuring out for themselves whether I'm frontin' or not?

Wait, so a comment about how hipsters are different from counterculture groups is because the accept the superficial authenticity of other cultural groups and have given up the search for authenticity into embracing the supplements turns into a discussion on whether nasreddin is authentic, if all his comments just appeared authentic by virtue of their references and they lack any content themselves, that he tells us nothing but just likes to namedrop.

I'm already seeing the end of post-modernity. It'll exist exclusively of backround noise with the occasional [1 favorite +].
posted by geoff. at 1:26 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


what, if anything, Derrida intended to mean

Fuck off. Really, just fuck off.
posted by Wolof at 3:55 PM on August 3, 2008


wolof--I had to look to see if the quote you just responded to was by ortho or nr, which I suppose says something about the nature of this thread.
posted by ornate insect at 4:22 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


As I've enjoyed — and learned much from — reading commentary by most of the major combatants in this thread, and seeing as I've considerable interest in bestowing yet more favor(ite)s upon them all in times to come, whether due to my delight in declarations fulgent with pretension or well-greaved with citation and cross-reference, so my earnest wish is that it all ends well; O Mefians, I hope that by the morning your livers all grow back.
posted by Haruspex at 4:31 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe it was Nietzsche who said "Sweet fuck, I just crapped out my pancreas and it smells like burning tires in here, I'll never drink PBR again."
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:17 PM on August 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was with him that night, and what he actually said was "Süsses Fick, ich habe gerade meine Bauchspeicheldrüse ausgescheissen und es riecht hier nach brennende Reifen, ich werde nie PBR wieder saufen." Note how I show my superior intellect by quoting Nietzsche in German.
posted by languagehat at 5:30 PM on August 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


the idea (that hipsters subsconsciously crave authenticity, consciously celebrate its impossibility, and so end up hating themselves) was a good one (thank you for making it - it was new to me). but surely i'm not alone in thinking the general acclaim is for presentation, not content? most people here wouldn't recognise a good idea if it bit them.

so what; that's life; etc. sure. but i understand ortho's annoyance. more importantly, nasreddin should too. the exchange validates his point - he was called out for being inauthentic...
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 6:29 PM on August 3, 2008


most people here wouldn't recognise a good idea if it bit them...
posted by: not sure this is a good idea

Uh...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:35 PM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


flapjax, we have a word for that.
posted by Caduceus at 7:50 PM on August 3, 2008


Remarkable. nasreddin is the Hipster, the Affected Provincial and the Fedora Guy of the MetaFilter community. And each one of his/her totally unnecessary posts to this thread just confirms that assessment. His hubris that all three descriptors encompass becomes increasingly evident and Orthogonality has done us all a service in calling out nasreddin's puffery.
posted by Neiltupper at 7:54 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was with him that night, and what he actually said was "Süsses Fick, ich habe gerade meine Bauchspeicheldrüse ausgescheissen und es riecht hier nach brennende Reifen, ich werde nie PBR wieder saufen." Note how I show my superior intellect by quoting Nietzsche in German.

If English was good enough for Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Michael Jackson and Jesus then it's goddamn well good enough for me, amigo. Get your mind right.

Nasreddin, you're ok in my book bro, we all learn as we go. I'm listening to Darling Nicki by Prince and digesting a few beers and some homemade chicken salad with Italian parsley and smoked Spanish paprika. For those with philosophical issues I recommend a week in Rincon, Puerto Rico, a thousand Medalla Lights, several whole red snappers in Criolla sauce, petting gnarly beach dogs and four daily swims in the salty water of the Carib. That's how I got my mind right.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:10 PM on August 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


So this girl said to me, "I got a degree in theoretical linguistics, which is mostly useless." And I said "Theoretical linguistics is useless? I'm not Saussure about that."
posted by ludwig_van at 8:27 PM on August 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


posted by Neiltupper at 10:54 PM on August 3 [+] [!]

You're the guy that made a series of dickish remarks about languagehat's "pomposity," right? I think that tells us all we need to know about your judgment right there.
posted by nasreddin at 9:24 PM on August 3, 2008


just out of curiousity, is the thread title a reference to Simian Mobile Disco?
posted by empath at 9:26 AM on August 4, 2008


I thought it was a reference to Little Weezy making out with Birdman.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:32 AM on August 4, 2008


I thought it was a reference to Little Weezy making out with Duckman.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2008


Can we start discussing Springsteen again? It's my favorite part of Metafilter.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:03 PM on August 4, 2008


If only beans were goth, then we'd be having a totally great time.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:42 PM on August 4, 2008


Metafilter: I think clearly expressed thoughts are uninteresting
posted by sloe at 11:21 PM on August 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have to agree with what Caduceus said.

Each of you loses more respect with each comment you make, as you show yourselves to be affected asshats. Languagehat most of all.
posted by blasdelf at 1:27 AM on August 5, 2008


Nasreddin, the only way I'd actually be feeling owed an apology is if I were in the habit of taking Metafilter more seriously than you take Sartre. Classy of you to offer one though. Cheers.

If English was good enough for Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Michael Jackson and Jesus then it's goddamn well good enough for me, amigo. Get your mind right.

I may steal this :-)

I'd also like to remind all present that hitting them out of the park is a fine and wondrous thing.
posted by flabdablet at 6:38 PM on August 5, 2008


This was truly the best of all possible threads.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:21 PM on August 5, 2008


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