Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An additional thought on the idiocy of quotation and praise

In an older post of mine, I described a somewhat trivial issue that I have with quotation. I still don't see it as particularly problematic, but pretense is pretense, and I might as well bring this topic up again in the interest of hitting things from as many points as possible.

When quoting someone, you're essentially conceding that he or she is superior at representing a set of ideas -- either relatively superior to you, or the definitive authority on the ideas, period.

If the person quoted is superior only to you, good on you for bringing him or her to our attention; now remove yourself from the conversation if you don't have anything to add yourself so that we may investigate the approach and arguments presented by your source.

If the person quoted is superior to everyone, fine, but as soon as you append his or her name to the quote, you're essentially promoting adulation, which is how jealousy, war, social inequities, and deification result. It's also not even true that the person is the source of the quote, because we can't choose the ideas that come to us any more than we can choose to be incapable of passing through walls.

And honestly, if you want to give someone an award for an accomplishment, go with a Child Labor Factory Worker of the Year award over a Grammy or a Nobel prize. Productive work, especially in disingenuous or less than ideal conditions, is much more respectable than studying rocks or discovering potential musical combinations.


  1. One more thing to add:

    The language that we use for everyday communication is itself attributable to other people; we pick it up first naturally, then willfully learn new words where it's useful for us to do so. In both cases, we are not the source of the language used; furthermore, no particular idea or concept can ever be directly attributable to any specific person or group of persons, as all ideas are interrelated and require contexts for their emergence. If most of your "I think that..." statements are off the top of your head and put into your own words, then why arbitrarily select a few of your views as worthy of source quotation? In my mind, the only answer is to show off or be otherwise ostentatious.

  2. I use quotations as ways to bolster an argument I'm making or to explain some related point, but it's not gonna be my only point. Of course when I have nothing to add I just post the quote and nothing else.

  3. Your blog is bad, and you should feel bad-Diogenes

    You are roughly as logical and rational as a retarded monkey-Frank Sinatra

    Go fuck yourself, jackass-Gandhi