Man, That’s So Argh

As a fan of pirates (ridiculous mythical pirates, of course, not real, modern-day pirates, who are truly scary and evil), I was thrilled to discover in the OED not only that the word “argh” once actually existed in the English language, but also that the definition is awesome. I think needs to be brought back into wider circulation:

argh, a.

Obs. exc. dial.

1. Cowardly, pusillanimous, timid, fearful. (Still in north. dial.)

2. Inert, sluggish, lazy, slow, loath, reluctant. (Still in north. dial.)

3. Vile, base, good-for-nothing. (So in Ger.) Obs.

4. as n. ? Wretch, betrayer, enemy. Obs.

Homework, Muckraking, and Peace

[…] I think art’s project is fundamentally meliorative. The aim of meditating about the world is finally to change the world. It is this meliorative aspect of literature that provides its ethical dimension. We are all Upton Sinclairs, even that Hamlet, Stéphane Mallarmé.

—Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing,” Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews (Kim Herzinger, ed.)

The Paradox of the Tone Deaf

From the authors’ concluding remarks:

…people tend to hold overly optimistic and miscalibrated views about themselves. We propose that those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Although we feel we have done a competent job in making a strong case for this analysis, studying it empirically, and drawing out relevant implications, our thesis leaves us with one haunting worry that we cannot vanquish. That worry is that this article may contain faulty logic, methodological errors, or poor communication. Let us assure our readers that to the extent this article is imperfect, it is not a sin we have committed knowingly.

—Kruger, Justin, and Dunning, David. “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, December 1999, Vol. 77, No. 6, 1121-1134.

The Trick of Photography,

I realize now, is that you have to be walking slowly.

Or not walking at all, just standing, looking, or wobbling vaguely across the sidewalks like a drunk, or an outoftowner, or meandering aimlessly, a flâneur.

This is difficult to do, when you’re always late for class.