Like Button

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Stupid Quotes

We have a lot of stupid "wise sayings" out there. The ones I'm talking about are the ones that everyone knows, that everyone thinks, "Oh, so true", but that are still stupid.

The classic line from the Zen Master is to say that something is "like the sound of one hand clapping." "Deep," we seem to think, "very deep." No it's not. It's stupid. There is no sound of one hand clapping. This "master" isn't getting to some higher plane. He's leaving behind rationality and reality. Clapping is the sound of two hands being struck together. One hand cannot clap. It's not deep; it's nonsense.

I saw this one recently in two different places: "You can't win if you don't play." That's right. If you don't buy a lottery ticket, you can't win the lottery. (That was one of the two.) And it is, at face value, true enough. The assumption, however, is that winning is a good thing. If winning is not a good thing (and looking through various stories and reports, it would be easy to come to that conclusion), then one might think the opposite truth would be equally good: "You can't lose if you don't play." So, is "winning" better than "not losing"? Or, better yet, since the vast majority of lottery players are losers, is "likely losing" better than "certainly not losing"? No one is asking that question (but me, I guess).

One that has bothered me as long as I've heard it: "Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?" This one just irritates me on several levels. Are you comparing the girl in question to a cow? Are sexual relations "milk"? Beyond that, is the best and primary reason to marry that you can have sex? If "You'll have to buy the cow if you can't get the milk for free" is the motive for marriage, I'm likely looking at a doomed marriage. Many see this as a warning to young women ("Don't 'give it away'.") and an indictment of modern sex-outside-marriage society. I see it as a clear representation of why marriage is in such trouble today. You see, marriage is not about recreational sex. Marriage has traditionally been defined as "the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of complementing each other and propagating the species". If we're going to change it to "getting milk", then I'm going to have to get a new word, obviously, for that original definition, but we're going to have no leg to stand on when we argue against marriage outside that original definition.

How about you? Do you have "wise sayings" that just get to you? What are they? And why?


Neil said...

Great points about the lottery ads. I wish people would take out ads with your "You can't lose if you don't play" line. Or, "You can't ruin your family with a gambling addiction if you don't play."

Stan said...

Oh, that's good! But, then, that would be real truth in advertising, and we can't have that, can we?

Jim Jordan said...

Here are some stupid sayings that garnered a lot of undeserved traction:

"I think therefore I am" - Descartes

"Man was born free but everywhere he is in chains" - Rousseau

"God bless America" by itself makes no sense without the "stand beside Her and guide Her" attached.

In Descartes' defense, the sentence finished "...therefore there must be a benevolent God who does not deceive me". Of course, he'd already screwed the pooch on the premise. Wittgenstein responded, "'I think'...what a terrible place to start!"

Rousseau's quote is so obviously stupid it defies logic how many people don't realize a baby is anything but free.

All of these stupid quotes are PLATITUDES; something that sounds cool but it's bull. There's no shortage of them around these days.
Good post

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

How about, "Let your conscience be your guide."

The conscience should not be our guide in determining truth - it should be our guard from wrong paths.

Stan said...

Wait, now, Glen, surely you're not going to question Jiminy Cricket?!!

Seriously, though, since Paul assures us that it is possible to sear the conscience, that does seem like a less-than-optimum approach.