Saturday, November 19, 2011

"foremost" fiddle faddle

Under a tinged-pink early morning sky as I drove to the convenience store, an enthusiastic male voice touted "the foremost black intellectual of our time." I didn't listen closely enough to find out who this person was or why I should believe the assessment: There was an early frost on the windshield  and I was trying to be careful driving with an ice-impaired field of vision.

Still, the idea of the "foremost intellectual" tickled and teased. How the hell does anyone make such an assertion, let alone believe it? I'm not trying to detract from what may be some very good intellectual capacities, but "foremost...?" The zealousness of the assertion seemed to undermine the very thing the assertion attempted to assert: What very good intellectual in his right -- or honest -- mind would lay claim or allow himself to bask in the self-serving aptness of the assessment? Only a twit would do that, right? Just another dummy.

But maybe it is like the "enlightenment" of Buddhism or other spiritual persuasions. The longing to have some tip-top exemplar of study or accomplishment is just so socially compelling that those demanding a front-runner will not be denied. They will not stop to ask themselves what the wearer of the laurels thinks or says, or how those demanding that someone be "enlightened" could possibly know what they were talking about without being enlightened themselves. So the needs of the many believers take precedence over any right-before-their-eyes facts. Would any honest "God" or "Buddha" bother entertaining him-, her-, or itself with a foremost notion like "God" or "Buddha?"

I am not trying to promote some mediocre 'equality' argument ... we are all 'special' or 'unique' or 'wondrous' or some similar lazy, self-help pablum. It is not the defrocking of the crowned prince that interests me. It is the willingness to explore and examine the person who put the crown atop these golden locks in the first place.

Without such an effort, wouldn't life take a turn for the worse -- be dragged down by kings and queens and princes instead of shining without a doubt?

"Fiddle faddle" was once an expression used to denote something spurious. "Poppycock" was another word for the same idea. Later both words were employed as names for a confection of popcorn covered with caramel. In their metaphorical sense, both words were your grandmother's prim way of saying "bullshit."

But whether metaphorical or literal, fiddle faddle is no diet on which to rely for serious nourishment. Relying on the "foremost" or "fully enlightened" exponent of anything may be a good encouragement and a tasty treat, but to the extent that anyone takes that 'anything' seriously, well, isn't there some need to feast on meat and potatoes if you want to grow up strong and healthy?


  1. The only snack food that can bring one to a sort of Satori would have been Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Many are the zen masters that owe their enlightened state to this no longer available product. Just reading the dharma on the back of the box under the influence of certain herbals could actually bring one close to understanding the cosmic joke of existence. Seriously.....