Thursday, July 25, 2013

royal spoil

Last one for the moment, I promise: one of the other things I've experienced in the course of general Facebook discourse illustrates quite neatly the way in which reflexive reverence for the royal family is very like reflexive adherence to religion. You can imagine, based on the blanket coverage even in the usually more sensible corners of the UK media (and top marks to the Guardian for offering a "Republican" button to switch it all off), how much inane royal baby chatter there's been on Facebook lately.

That's mildly irritating to me, but understandable and fine and I don't get all aerated about it - people can post what they like, and I'm not the Facebook police, after all. But I do demand that the same courtesy be extended to me if I wish to post an update or a comment mildly dissenting from the mass fawning and forelock-tugging. However, the usual reaction is a sort of tutting "why are you spoiling it for everyone?".

The religious parallel, which I hope is clear, is with things like the atheist bus adverts, where a general background noise of public goddism is deemed to be the default, but any overt reference to atheism, however mild, prompts a spate of mass swooning and pearl-clutching. It's the sort of (possibly willed, possibly unconscious, I don't know) blindness to what's around you every hour of every day that's the target of this hoary old parable:
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
That specific wording is from this series of quotes from David Foster Wallace's This Is Water, which is a transcript of his commencement address to students at Kenyon College in Ohio in 2005. As usual with DFW it's a bit verbose and convoluted but has some good stuff. It's available in book form, but best to watch and hear it as originally delivered, I think.


The Black Rabbit said...

"Two parrots sitting on a perch..."

Not the same thing eh?

I'll get me coatimundi.

The Black Rabbit said...

By the way.
Saw this on youtube the other day and thought of you.
Watch the whole way through.