Wednesday, January 05, 2022


The art of stupid lives in America. As per the BRT review of the flick Don't Look Up, yours truly points out many people will believe absolutely anything as long as it's on the net, whether it be Qanon, Facebook or online "news", an alternate reality Republicans take advantage of by amping up these "true believers" to vote using fear and "use against them" arguments to make it happen. 

The adjective gullible comes from the verb to gull, which used to mean to cram yourself with something as well as to cheat or dupe, to cram someone else full of fictions. “Not doubting I could gull the Government,” wrote Daniel Defoe in 1701, and Hannah Arendt used the word gullible repeatedly in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” published in 1951. “A mixture of gullibility and cynicism is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements, and the higher the rank the more cynicism weighs down gullibility,” she wrote. That is, among those gulling the public, cynicism is a stronger force; among those being gulled, gullibility is, but the two are not so separate as they might seem.

One cannot make this up and ... it's all about belonging.

Distinctions between believable and unbelievable, true and false, are not relevant for people who have found that taking up outrageous and disprovable ideas is instead an admission ticket to a community or an identity. Without the yoke of truthfulness around their necks, they can choose beliefs that flatter their worldview or justify their aggression. I sometimes think of this straying into fiction as a kind of libertarianism run amok — we used to say “you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” Too many Americans now feel entitled to their own facts. In this too-free marketplace of ideas, they can select or reject ideas, facts or histories to match their goals, because meaning has become transactional.

The Sycophantic Fox And The Gullible Raven

A raven sat upon a tree,

    And not a word he spoke, for

His beak contained a piece of Brie.

    Or, maybe it was Roquefort.

We'll make it any kind you please —

At all events it was a cheese.

Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb

    A hungry fox sat smiling;

He saw the raven watching him,

    And spoke in words beguiling:

"J'admire," said he, "ton beau plumage!"

(The which was simply persiflage.)

Two things there are, no doubt you know,

    To which a fox is used:

A rooster that is bound to crow,

    A crow that's bound to roost;

And whichsoever he espies

He tells the most unblushing lies.

"Sweet fowl," he said, "I understand

    You're more than merely natty;

I hear you sing to beat the band

    And Adelina Patti.

Pray render with your liquid tongue

A bit from Gotterdammerung."

This subtle speech was aimed to please

    The crow, and it succeeded;

He thought no bird in all the trees

    Could sing as well as he did.

In flattery completely doused,

He gave the "Jewel Song" from Faust.

But gravitation's law, of course,

    As Isaac Newton showed it,

Exerted on the cheese its force,

    And elsewhere soon bestowed it.

In fact, there is no need to tell

What happened when to earth it fell.

I blush to add that when the bird

    Took in the situation

He said one brief, emphatic word,

    Unfit for publication.

The fox was greatly startled, but

He only sighed and answered, "Tut."

The Moral is: A fox is bound

    To be a shameless sinner.

And also: When the cheese comes round

    You know it's after dinner.

But (what is only known to few)

The fox is after dinner, too.

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