« Givewell R.I.P.? | Main | Open Source Philanthropy After Holden Karnofsky »

January 06, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



I don't think there is any one style by which to conduct a conversation about a topic, including -- if not especially -- philanthropy.

As a consumer of ideas, I appreciate your satirical style and find it very effective. As a "bricoleur" (fixer-upper) of ideas (I find it hard to call myself a "producer"), I feel more at home with the "earnest" approach. I reject, however, a couple of premises which this style often entails -- namely the myth of the true self and the myth of the conduit metaphor of language.

What I particularly appreciate about satire is that it permits the debunking of widely held myths that we're not allowed to talk about in public. There is a taboo about saying there is no such thing as authenticity and language does not transfer ideas from one mind to another. What would society be like if we didn't expect consistency from ourselves or others, friends, family and strangers alike? What would happen if people didn't mean what they said?

Our society is premised upon the self and communication between selves. It is interesting to note, however, that the world hasn't fallen apart since I stopped believing in "sincerity". Of course, that may only prove that enough people remain inoculated to prohibit an epidemic.


Maureen, thank you so much for this. Yes, the point of satire is that it violates taboos. In one sense nothing could be more obvious: Satire is the obscene dance of the stinking goat. But the scatology releases a carnival atmosphere that let us violates other taboos - such as the taboo against speaking unseemly truths to or about powerful people. The scapegoat dances before the king knowing that one will will die. ("The chalice that holds wine at dawn hold blood at dusk." That is one of The Happy Tutor's better aphorisms.) As Dryden notes in his remarks on our Noble Trade there is all the difference in the world between a slovenly butcher who hacks at a man and a headsman who takes the head off with one stroke so clean that the head remains smiling on the shoulders.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Wealth Bondage Premium Content

  • Castle by the Sea
    Provided as a professional courtesy at no extra charge to those with net worth of $25 million or more and/or family income of $500,000 a year or more, and to their Serving Professionals of all genders.