I find rabid cynicism to be VERY unsexy. Pathological Rationalists come a close second and now we’re at it, let’s throw in those who always pepper their arguments with, “that’s not logical…” There’s nothing wrong with Logic, per say, but these party stoppers, I believe, are just adverse to new information.
The above pic is a definition from John Ralston Saul’s book, The Doubter’s Companion – A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense. I bought it in the 90s and I still pull it out and read his highly insightful and often very funny definitions of all sorts of assumed truths. He covers all kinds of subjects, love, democracy, management, bankers, orgasms, economics, growth, answers, education. You name it, and it’s still available to purchase on line.
His book Voltaire’s Bastards is well worth a read too. From memory there’s a funny section on Nazis uniforms and the birth of the business suit and then there’s his big theory that corporate culture is a re-invigoration of the old European Military Bureaucracies.
Generally speaking, I love reference books and think they are the heart of anyone’s library. Google or Wikipedia don’t cut it, simply by the fact they are not carefully curated, like a published book that has gone through many hurdles to come into existence. Because what’s on the Internet is usually posted by agenda pushing pedants and those who simply love to type. THINK BEFORE TYPING, should really be a mandatory pop up on every browser.
Recently a friend of mine came back from New York with the gift of a book, The Classical Compendium – a miscellany of scandalous gossip, bawdy jokes, peculiar facts and bad behaviour from the ancient Greeks and Romans.
I’ve only scanned it briefly and it looks great. One example is of Aristotle believing “that men with small penises were more masculine, in that they were more likely to father children. He believed that semen cooled once it left the scrotum and lost more and more of its potency the further it had to travel.”
Extraordinary really, considering how hot and ribald it can get down there, that such a criteria would really matter. But if Aristotle is right, then one could also assume that if you are a few inches short, at least Evolution has picked you for the winning team and not some Brazilian porn star.
The Roman writer, Pliny’s Natural History is also a great shopping list of imaginative ignorance. Nothing wrong with ignorance, as long as you acknowledge it, because there’s always a jumping party of new information round the corner. And that’s logical…nor is it cynical.