Warning! Contains vicarious swearing!

Jonathan Chait wrote a post the other day about politics and bullshit. It is, in itself, worth reading. However, the post contains a link to a longer essay on the topic of bullshit by Harry Frankfurt. It contains what may be my favorite paragraph of academic writing ever:
The notion of carefully wrought bullshit involves, then, a certain
inner strain. Thoughtful attention to detail requires discipline and
objectivity. It entails accepting standards and limitations that
forbid the indulgence of impulse or whim. It is this selflessness
that, in connection with bullshit, strikes us as inapposite. But in
fact it is not out of the question at all. The realms of advertising
and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of
politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that
they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of
the concept. And in these realms there are exquisitely sophisticated
craftsmen who -- with the help of advanced and demanding techniques of
market research, of public opinion polling, of psychological testing,
and so forth -- dedicate themselves tirelessly to getting every word
and image they produce exactly right.
I've never met Harry Frankfurt, and up until this morning had never even heard of him. But I can't help but admire the wry humor that went into crafting this perfect paragraph, and I just had to pass it on.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post! It is indeed a perfect paragraph, I think, a pleasure reading.