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October 28, 2006


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Ray Davis

Forgive me, Phil. In dedicating my little song, I hoped only for the protection of your good name. But my presumption gave umbrage where it sought shelter.

I suppose that blows any chance at patronage. Ah, well, maybe Charles d'Orléans is still available....


A fulsome dedication would have been more appropriate. If we are ever to have a progressive version of Pajama Media, we will have to learn to flatter funders better than we have.

Ray Davis

Ne rubeam, pingui donatus munere!

J. Alva Scruggs

Ah, Phil, back when you were a simple possum, I used to enjoy reading this blog. Now to my dismay it's clear that you're actually a dance instructor giving lessons in the social arbitrage tango.


Besides, a fate attends on all I write,
That when I aim at praise, they say I bite.
A vile encomium doubly ridicules:
There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools;
If true, a woeful likeness; and if lies,
"Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise."
Well may he blush, who gives it, or receives;
And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves
(Like journals, odes, and such forgotten things
As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of kings)
Clothe spice, line trunks, or flutt'ring in a row,
Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.

-Pope, writing so as to be misunderstood by the Dunce in High Office, King George. "Imitations of Horace, The First Epistle of the Second Book"

"'Praise undeserved is scandal in disguise.'" How far we postmoderns have improved upon this. Now, praise undeserved is the better part of public relations, punditry, marketing, sales, and fund-raising.

If Phil writes in the accepted mode, as an all-admiring idiot, you, Mr. Davis, are the first to call him out. Our clients and ultra high net worth readers seem quite pleased by the act of obeisance and to take it as their due, much as did poor King George as the recipient of Pope's shrewed satire.

Today's successful people are often so dense, and so culturally illiterate, what with their MBAs and all, that they often do not even know when they are being satirized and baited via the praise of a well meaning Dunce like this, "Phil." The Happy Tutor they disdain as rude. Phil they hug to their bosom as a trusted advisor. But both are Fools who have at heart the reader's deeper moral reform - willing or unwilling. Such was Pope's project here with his King, such was Horace's with his Emperor, such was Erasmus's in his "Praise of Folly" with the Church hierarchy, and such is mine today with Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, their Dynastic Families, and their retinues of Trusted Advisors.


Trading up, Mr. Scruggs, or down? We Fools must make the best use of our talents.

J. Alva Scruggs

The reptile from the bawdy house, I must admit, does look fine danced in Prada.


We all make our fortunes in various ways. What you call a Bawdy House, I call a social venture with a double bottom-line, public service and private profit. If John Gay could write a play, "The Beggars Opera," imaging the wealthy and powerful of his day as Highwaymen and Doxies, and do so for a moral purpose, so might I. It all comes with the territory, being a Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families. Can't do it without a liberal application of the liberal arts, as well as
religious practices such as the mortification of the flesh. So what you might call a Bordello is in fact a Scene of Moral Instruction. Says so on the permit nailed to the front door.

Ray Davis

Humblingly, that entire recent set of Pseudopodia could be said to've been anticipated by Pope:

Yet, Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great;
These madmen never hurt the Church or state:
Sometimes the folly benefits mankind;
And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind.
Allow him but his plaything of a pen,
He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men:
Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind;
And knows no losses while the Muse is kind.
To cheat a friend, or ward, he leaves to Peter;
The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre,
Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet;
And then -- a perfect hermit in his diet.

(The last line excepted, of course.)


I re-read the Epistle marveling at how overt, yet how covert it was. It offers fulsome praise of a dull witted King, then a bit later on comments on that very conceit, how a man should be insulted when unjustly praised. The poem is a disguised bit of impudence, which passes itself off as an imitation of an Old Master. We can learn much in our day on how to be accepted in the ranks of courtiers, yet convey the harshest truth the easiest way, as Pope says citing Horace in another of his poems. I somehow think that satire and ages of Imperial sway go well together. The great ages of satire were Rome under Nero and the Caesars, Augustan England (the Age of Pope), and perhaps now today in the Age of Freedom, sponsored in part by Rooster Foundation, Crowing in the New American Century. How to write well under such conditions, telling moral truths to those powers that be who feel no need for them, and to prosper nonetheless, that is the problem solved by Horace and Pope so elegantly. Makes me think that the Fox Trot at Gifthub may work out after all. No one gets, it everyone thinks they do, and all is well with the world. "We do not Torture. Likewise, "We do not write Satire." The Knave and the Dunce trade places handy-dandy and no one is the wiser. As long as no one else cracks a smile, I won't either.


This was a good read.


Reading that kind of thing is fun; writing it gives me the willies.

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