Monday, October 16, 2006

Superficial profundity

I was thinking about writing up something in a blog post about how so many things considered profound in popular culture are really not profound at all -- they're merely obfuscated, as if people who are used to assuming that something they cannot understand must be profound, simply write things which cannot be understood, and assume they must be profound. But then I remembered Nietzsche already said that so much better. Most quotably thus:

"Mystical explanations are considered deep. The truth is that they are not even superficial."

I am writing this from work, or else I'd grab my copy of The Gay Science in order to quote a few more passages on the subject, of a little more length and clarity. But this quote really does say it. They're not even superficial, because they're not even explanations.

A truly profound statement can withstand scrutiny and examination -- in fact, it demands such, it blossoms from it. A superficial, trite nothing-in-fancy-dress, like you are likely to hear uttered by characters on the "very special episodes" of mainstream TV shows, or see on bumper-stickers, will not withstand scrutiny; it will turn out to mean nothing, or nothing worth saying. Scrutiny and analysis is not a means to puncture the truth and let the air out; it's a means to separate the truth from the shallow obfuscation that masquerades as insight.

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