Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I am sitting here debating whether to put the word forward as a useful addition to the English language:
One of the problems is, of course, that any description or dissection of the issue alluded to is likely to fall prey to the problem it seeks to lay out, i.e. the capacity, whether deliberate or unintended, to inject subjects with needless complexity.

Murkophilia -- the love of murk.

The problem may be summed up simply: If it smells like bullshit and sounds like bullshit, then, in all likelihood, it is bullshit. But bullshit is a malleable commodity: Sometimes it deserves to be dissed and dismissed and sometimes it is highly useful.

In any event....

Murkophilia is the love child of college students who are taking a final exam and run up against a question they don't honestly know the answer to but are aware that they should know. The result is a lengthy bit of eyewash filling the blue book answer sheet ... maybe the student can pull the wool over the teacher's eyes.

Murkophilia is the mark of anyone who has not bothered to study the honest complexity of a given topic but hopes to look good, sound profound, and not get caught. True, some topics are honestly complex, but the more complex any 'expert' makes things, the more likely it is that s/he has not done the homework necessary to an honest understanding.

But it's tricky too. On the one hand, murkophilia may burnish the chalice of a preening academic or politician, but the effect can backfire, as when the electorate listens with joy to simplistic political solutions to complex problems. Lately, for example, the Republican front-running candidate and billionaire, Donald Trump, has made a lot of hay with such anti-murkophilia simplicites, offering draconian, off-the-cuff solutions to issues like immigration into this country of immigrants.

In the end, perhaps, the chief characteristic of murkophilia is just the love of self.

But how refreshing it is so hear someone who knows his/her topic from muzzle to butt plate and can enunciate it without seeking out kudos or agreement: The issue is the issue and the razor wire of complexity, while available, is a matter of personal preference. If you know what you're talking about, is there anything valuable added by flashing your knickers?

Even murkophilia gets murky when anyone digs in. But is there a need to spread the murk around?

1 comment:

  1. If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.

    Albert Einstein