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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Many Non Sequiturs Do Not Follow

There is a strange habit, certainly among Americans and maybe all people everywhere, of taking straightforward pieces of information and acting as if they were advice. Case in point: "There's No Free Lunch."
Once upon a time, your average bar would indeed have had free food spread out for you around lunchtime. To not have a free lunch would be an exception. One even may encounter free hors d'ouevres to this day at certain bars, circa happy hour. So if you were not offering any free food to your customers in those days, you'd need a sign to let them know in advance.

The first several hundred times in my life I heard this one, it was usually rendered as; "Like the sign says, 'there's no free lunch'." It was being offered as advice, but acknowledging its source as a commonplace thing that has no idea it's giving you life lessons. In years to come, it lost the modifier and suddenly became one of those faux tough guy things that Americans like to say.

There's a guy I know only by reputation, and as far as I can tell, he's an idiot. All I've got on him are stories from other people and what he posts on Facebook.
One time, in the course of a longer discussion about...Individuality, I suppose, he wrote "I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for something I am not."

Except for a few misspellings and occasional kitteh-isms like 'wold', that's pretty much how it rolled. Now, since I don't know the guy, I just couldn't bring myself to deliver the only comeback, which is: "You're in luck!"
But it reminds me also how often you're likely to hear shit like that from people who don't really mean it -I bet he'd be a freaking wreck if he knew what people really thought of him- and how it (like everything) is a mis-reading of Shakespeare.

Well? How likely are you to hear shit opinions voiced by idiots that do indeed back it up with words from The Bard, because they know that at least Once Upon A Time, that would be enough? So then you get dipshits quoting things like "To thine own self, be true," and "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

For the first line, you must remember that the person who spoke that is a fool. For the second, you must remember that the person who spoke it was joking. The removal of all-important Context makes it possible for your asshole neighbor who spends all his time being disproportionately angry at everything to use these to mean, respectively,
"I'm an asshole. GET OVER IT!" and
Which is to say; a fool, being true to his own nature as usual.

Somehow this always reminds me of the peculiar American habit (again as I say; I've never lived anywhere else) of deciding in advance that anyone who is accused of a crime is therefore guilty of said crime. The more heinous the crime, the more likely this reaction is.
Thing is, I've been on the receiving end of this one just enough times in my life to tell you: just because everybody thinks it, doesn't make it so. I've lived in just enough communities in my time where everybody was just one hundred per cent convinced that I'd done something that I had not done that I do indeed sympathize with people who Stand Accused.

The culprit as always is groupthink. Or what your cracker barrel philosophers will call good ol' horse sense. The easy and the obvious. Homilies and homespun wisdom. Handed-down misinterpretations of things. If it rhymes, it's true. If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'. It just makes good sense.

And all of this leads to me, stuck behind a delivery van the other day. The legend on the back read, "Many stops do not follow," to which I had to think, that's true y'know: they don't.


Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

And let's not get started on mixing metaphors...

3:48 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

And I even forgot to address how often I hear people mangle that whole "methinks the lady doth protest too much" thing these days. Ah well.

10:23 PM  

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