Saturday, March 4, 2017

The golden age of bullshit


What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.

- On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

Bullshit, as Harry Frankfurt said, isn’t the same thing as a lie. When you read a lie, you know it is untrue. When bullshit is read, on the other hand, you simply don’t care if it’s true or not. So if I were to tell you that I’m writing this post on a typewriter rather than my laptop that would be a lie. If I were to tell you that I’m writing this post on my laptop and some of the components in this computer were manufactured in Taiwan, well that would be a bullshit.... We are living in a golden age of bullshit. People simply cannot live without it. I took books to prove my point.

The books about Steve Jobs are bullshit

There are many stories about his "great" life. One of them goes like this... Soon after he returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, he decided that a shipping company wasn’t delivering spare parts fast enough. The shipper said it couldn’t do better, and it didn’t have to: Apple had signed a contract granting it the business at the current pace. Steve Jobs as a new chief executive had a simple request: Break the contract. When an Apple manager warned him that this decision would probably mean a lawsuit, Jobs responded, “Just tell them if they fuck with us, they’ll never get another fucking dime from this company, ever.”

The shipper did sue. The manager quit Apple. (Jobs “would have fired me anyway,” he later told to an interview). The legal proceeding took a year and presumably a significant amount of money to resolve. But meanwhile, Apple hired a new shipper that met the expectations of the company’s uncompromising CEO.

What this tells about Steve Jobs? After all, I want to read the lives of successful people for inspiration and instruction. But his behaviours and personality make me uncomfortable. He is a selfish bastard, with only money in front of his eyes. He violates any norm of social or business interaction that stands between him and what he wants. He routinely told subordinates that they were assholes, that they never did anything right. Jobs called his closest friends “a piece of shit” and stormed out anyone whenever they displeased him.

Jobs biography is still a best seller for people that do not use their brain. His life story has emerged as a corporate gospel book. For some people, Jobs’ life has revealed the importance of sticking firmly to vision and goals with no concern for employees or business associates.

I despise the books about Jobs and I take them as a cautionary tale of corporate greed, he was a man who maybe changed the world but that is done at the price of destroying basic human interaction with almost everyone around him.

Autobiography of a Yogi, the book by Paramahansa Yogananda

This book is supposed to be a first-hand account of the life experiences of Paramhansa Yogananda, a spiritual master but this book is negligible, worthless and distasteful, nothing but a great bullshit, even it has been sold in millions of copies and is "beloved" around the world by those interested in yoga and spirituality.

I could not finish reading this book. I stopped reading before Yogananda left to America. It is pointless and disappointing book. Autobiography of a yogi is the ultimate example of zero information in a pretty long book.

The book is full of stories about saints that perform countless miracles - most of which are truly bullshit. It is all about great and predestined life for sainthood. The book does not contain any teaching, as many people claim, but rather an undiscriminating account of second hand stories.

As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them. Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgment that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know. Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantialónotoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit.

- On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt.


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