Today's Words of Wisdom...

...come, of course, from ComicsCurmudgeon.com, and refer to the following panel from a Gil Thorp strip:




Says one of the Curmudgeon's many brilliant readers:

"Brick in GT talks like a stupid person expects smart people to talk. Dear Mr. Rubin: AutoThesaurus is never a good idea." —Kaliflower

No larger point here. But "talks like a stupid person expects smart people to talk" is a concept I've been trying to put into exact words for a long time, and Kaliflower has rendered it in precise terms. Or maybe that should be succinct, concise and unprolix terms.

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  • ||

    But "talks like a stupid person expects smart people to talk" is a concept I've been trying to put into exact words for a long time...

    For further reference, see Burt Schlubb and Douglas Klump, Junior Roark's high-power vocabulary goons from "Sin City."

  • ||

    Through Comics Curmudgeon, I've Come to enjoy Gil Thorp. The writing is actually pretty clever and those hairdos, oy!

    On the subject, the other day I was attempting to pass on an appreciation of the complexities of something-or-other to my daughter and she said "Dad, you're being verbose". I was struck dumb.

  • ||

    Along these lines are Frank Miller's characters that speak as like people trying to sound like they think smart people should sound. Mr. Klump and Mr. Shlubb in the Sin City stories, and Kingpin's lackey following Matt Murdock in the Pariah/Armegeddon story arc.

  • ||

    Another example is cop speak: "At approximately 9:35pm I observed the alleged perpetrator..."

    Then there are all those folks that give themselves away by using "I" when "me" is correct.

  • ||

    Beat me to it Akira. ut my comment still had value as like it was an example of how hurried/dumb people talk.

  • ||

    That "I versus me" rule is too complicated for I.

  • fyodor||

    This is known as artistic license. Put another way, it's often more interesting to have characters speak stereotypically than realisticly. Shakespearean characters talk funny too.

  • fyodor||

    D.A. Ridgely,

    How about for "I and I"? :-)

  • ||

    "At approximately 9:35pm I observed the alleged perpetrator..."

    ...exiting an edifice.

    I had a roommate in college who used to try to write like smart people write. I'd help him out with his papers, and he'd bring me the most mangled gobbledegook you've ever seen. But he didn't know - it looked exactly like the readings from the texts assigned to him in class. Lots of conversations like this:

    "What is the point you're trying to make here. Don't look! Just tell me."

    "Well, it's like (states straightforward point)."

    "Fine! Great! Write that!"

    "I can just write that?"

  • ||

    Joe, in college I took a course entitled "A Survey of Hate and Violence" or somesuch.

    The textbook was the most incomprehensible pile of post-modern buzzwords I've ever seen strung together.

    I nearly kept it, just as an example of how it's possible to use fancy words and neato catch phrases as a way to obfuscate your point and bring logical thought to a grinding halt.

    The first clue should have been the Andy Warhol art on the cover...

  • ||

    Why do sesquipedalian academics hate knowledge? (At least on the part of undergrads.)

  • ||

    Like mediageek, I had a whopper university course larded with postmodern chit-chat entitled "Religion and Play". I still don't know what the course was about.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Then there are all those folks that give themselves away by using "I" when "me" is correct.

    My Golden Rule: Good enough for Ray Manzarek, good enough for I.

  • ||

    "Well, it's like (states straightforward point)." "Fine! Great! Write that!" "I can just write that?"

    Problem is, profs often require a certain length. If you write plainly and avoid unnecessary verbosity, you'll never make it. It's as though they are teaching that longer thinking equals deeper thinking. Of course the better ones try to stay away from that.

  • ||

    It's as though they are teaching that longer thinking equals deeper thinking.

    Longer! Deeper! Obfuscate me harder!

  • Jeff P.||

    Obfuscation is a perfectly cromulent tactic...

  • ||

    Porn Star, might I remark that you appear quite callipygian today...

  • ||

    I used to work with a guy who had a plaque above his desk that said "abrogate obfuscation".

  • ||

    Elizabeth Bowen on Aldous Huxley:

    "The stupid person's idea of a clever person."

    It's the kind of insult that negates any comeback.

  • ||

    Personally, I always hated it (and still do) when kid's shows portray the "smart" kid as being some sort of ridiculous crazy inventor/walking thesaurus/kid with fifty years' out-of-date haircut all in one.

    I mean, until they get to high school (give or take a few years) and they can let their freak flag, if they have one, fly, smart kids are more or less just like the normal ones...only smarter. They don't act all like Jeff Goldblum what with the button-down plaid shirts and funny glasses and basement laboratory.

  • ||

    Don't put that geek shit on me, man, I used to do Geena Davis, and we all know how hot she is, don't we!

  • ||

    Man, did you SEE yourself in The Fly?

    And what about those Apple commercials?

    NERD! *gives you a melvin*

  • ||

    I have a Gargantuan discommodity. Hot women constantly want to eschew my penis.

  • Timothy||

    Joe, in college I took a course entitled "A Survey of Hate and Violence" or somesuch.

    That class was probably not about what I'd hope it was about. Although it might make a good subtitle for the OC blog.

    They don't act all like Jeff Goldblum what with the button-down plaid shirts and funny glasses and basement laboratory.

    Speak for yourself. My bedroom had a burglar alarm that I wired up myself.

  • fyodor||

    It's the kind of insult that negates any comeback.

    Oh, but "I know you are but what am I?" always works!!

  • ||

    Aw, man, I totally went to The OC blog thinking it would be something way cooler than what it was.

  • ||

    Hot women constantly want to eschew my penis.


    Eww, I don't want to chew your penis!

  • ||

    Like mediageek, I had a whopper university course larded with postmodern chit-chat entitled "Religion and Play". I still don't know what the course was about.

    I just dropped a class because of this. It was a good class - the philosophy of literature - and the professor really knew what he was talking about in his lectures. But the textbook . . . I literally cannot figure out how this intelligent, interesting professor could possibly think that this was a good textbook. One of the blurbs on the back says that it is the "most un-boring, unnerving, unpretentious textbook I've ever come across." The first chapter is on "Beginnings." It starts, "When will we have begun?" I mean, c'mon. That's not deep, that's clever. The rest of the book is that way, too. The authors thought they were making really deep, salient points, but they're just being clever. Another choice quote: "There is no concept of the colony in the English language that does not depend on the colonization of English by Latin - which is also to say, the colonization of Latin by English." You just know these guys were sharing a joint, thought of that, and said, "Whoa, man, that's deep! We should put that in the book!"

    Before this class, I thought the whole thing with postmodernism was overblown. Yeah, it's pretty stupid, but I didn't think that it could possible as banally moronic as people made it out to be. Now I know that it is. It didn't help that I was reading a book that actually had ideas about literary criticism (Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism) at the time, and I couldn't help comparing the two.

    So, to sum up, a question: Is all of postmodernism just stupid people talking the way they expect smart people to talk?

  • ||

    You know Jeff, I was really offended by those Apple commercials. Who are you to suggest that I should be willing to give up one pizza a month to buy a computer on credit? I don't think you've been in a position in which such a choice would be relevant in a long, long time.

    Just thought I'd take the opportunity to let you know, since you're here and all.

  • ||

    This is the type of nonsense up with which I will no longer put!

  • ||

    Hey, here's a good one:

    "Ordinarily, such pedestrian rhetoric would not merit comment but, unfortunately, it is on this level the Republicans have been peddling their wares. That is, refusing to dialog on the real issues extant, they rattle their sabers with non-issues to tantalize to the surface the visceral response of fear."

    from: http://vernondent.blogspot.com/

  • ||

    Tim came up with this thread as a veiled warning to certain posters. Fortunately it is so veiled, I'm going to continue assuming he didn't mean me.

  • ||

    Me talk pretty one day.

  • ||

    "...like a stupid person expects smart people to talk."

    That would explain why laws and regulations are written in such a manner. Inasmuch as the manner in which laws and regulations are written is illustrated by the former preceeding quote. Furthermore, the style of writing such laws...

    Sorry, flashback.

  • dhex||

    "Is all of postmodernism just stupid people talking the way they expect smart people to talk?"

    it's pretty close in some areas, especially english lit. my wife is a phd candidate at fordham, and some of her critical theory classes have been a total fucking hoot to hear about. so many middle class marxists looking for a face to stamp.

    i married my wife in part because she, like i, loves the Word. i get the feeling that many of the political critics do not love the Word except as a weapon, like a rather wordy ann coulter.

  • ||

    "i get the feeling that many of the political critics do not love the Word except as a weapon"

    Yes! What he said! Historical, political, and cultural context are great, close readings are great, deconstruction gets at an important truth, but...

    In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

  • dhex||

    it's depressing, really. i think she's begun to hate them for it, which may make for a rough career, but there's that whole "back to the text" brigade that seems to have some life in it. she delivered a paper at the bloomsbury conference last year on v. woolf that went over well enough, despite having zero theory in it.

    there's this group of four women in this one class she takes - i uncreatively titled them the gang of four - who spend their time sniping at people who don't "get" theory, especially of the lacan/post-freudian/women cannot truly express themselves in english because english is a male grammar and language/abuse of mathematics and set theory part of the gene pool. meanwhile, they complain that academics in mathematics, political science and linguistics treat them like they're stupid.

    yet they never put two and two together. largely because two plus two requires a precision demanded by the masculinist oligarchy of late-period capitalism.

  • ||

    Is it just me or does that Gil Thorp panel look like something out of a Jack Chick tract?

  • ||

    Personally, I can't even see the image on this page.

  • ||

    "Then there are all those folks that give themselves away by using "I" when "me" is correct."

    If I were the type, I'd create a drinking game out of how many times the asshats on The Apprentice said "myself," when "me" is correct.

  • ||

    What bugs me/makes me laugh/I've always found interesting about Marxists is the way they talk in a kind of code, such that the words have a different meaning to an insider vs. an outsider. Probably the best example is "exploitation": What's Joe Sixpack going to think, other than "Well, exploitation is something bad, right?" But it has a specific technical meaning in Marxist terminology. Although my own bias is pretty clear, I've long felt that it says something significant that you can read and understand capitalist economic writings without agreeing with them; Marxist texts tend to be incomprehensible unless you're already indoctrinated.

  • ||

    JD,

    Capitalist tracts have their own lingo. Off the top of my head, "Standard of Living" and "Productive" have specific meanings that go beyond their dictionary definitions.

    You just don't notice it, because you've been indoctrinated.

  • ||

    especially of the lacan/post-freudian/women cannot truly express themselves in english because english is a male grammar and language/abuse of mathematics and set theory part of the gene pool.

    Ew. Pass along my condolences. I can't imagine having to spend so much time around such people. The two or three I have to deal with on a semiregular basis are already making me want to tear my hair out.

  • ||

    The textbook was the most incomprehensible pile of post-modern buzzwords I've ever seen strung together.

    As P.J. O'Rourke says, "Looking into a college textbook as an adult is a shock (and a vivid reminder of why we were so glad to get out of school). The prose style is at once puerile and impenetrable, Goodnight Moon rewritten by Henry James."

  • ||

    I blame the French.

    No, seriously. If you've ever tried to wade through modern French philosophy (if Lacan or Derrida can be called that) you'll see exactly where this all comes from.

    And it's not a translation issue, either--I tried the above in the original.

  • ||

    The problem is that the French were all high on methamphetamines when they wrote their endless books. Thus, the only way to stop shitty post-modern writing is to wage an expensive and endless Le War on Le Drugs and drop defoliants on Paris.

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