March 29, 2017

"You may have told Glenn you were a 'sly trickster' but you were only being a sly trickster when you did."

"I think you could more accurately be described as a perceptively independent observer who enjoys pointing out where a generally accepted opinion is, if not wrong necessarily, at least questionable. Contrarians are more indiscriminate. Maybe the word you were looking for was impish."

Wrote Luke Lea in the comments to "I resist Glenn Loury's label for — me — 'contrarian,' explain why, and offer an alternative label, which he then readily slaps on himself."

That felt very accurate to me... except for the suggestion that the right word is "impish."

I wonder if the word "contrarian" felt wrong to me because it seems indiscriminate — like someone who disagrees for the sake of disagreeing. I'm discriminate, but you might not see the way I'm being discriminate. I'd have a little trouble myself explaining exactly what gets me going disagreeing with people, but it has a lot to do with whether those people are pleased with themselves and think they're better than other people because of what they think.* Smugness, self-righteousness, identification as one of the good people, looking down on people who don't agree — that brings out the contrarian in me.

Anyway, "impish"... it means "Having the characteristics of an imp; pertaining to or characteristic of a little devil or mischievous urchin." Sounds "a trifle too satanic" (to quote The Rolling Stones).



_________________________

* Yesterday was a good example, when everyone was scolding Chuck Schumer for demanding that a rich old lady tell him why she voted for a liar. I said "I think it's nice that Chuck Schumer displays his opinions and personality in full public view." In the comments, I even said "I cop to trolling on this one. Used the word on my own talking to Meade before I read this." ("This" = Paco Wové saying the post needed an "Althouse trolls her commentariat" tag.)

37 comments:

traditionalguy said...

No more beating around the bush. The only word that describes Althouse is "Cute." And no amount of hyper mental skills and impeccable style can hide it.

Quayle said...

I have and continue to use the term "intellectually honest" to describe you, Ann.

But you're also a pretty big hippy. If it was all Dylan and Quicksilver Messenger Service your hippy-ness might be too much for me. To foofy.

But the Zappa balances you out.

Laslo Spatula said...

I seem to remember Bob Dylan being referred to as a "sly trickster," but a quick glance of Google doesn't bring it up. "Sly" and "Trickster", yes, but not the combo platter.

Although many of the hits revolved around the song "Jokerman".

As such, "Smugness, self-righteousness, identification as one of the good people, looking down on people who don't agree — that brings out the contrarian in me" does seem akin to:

"False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin,
Only a matter of time 'til night comes steppin' in"

Was Althouse "born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing"?

"A snake in both of your fists": a Law professor teaching the Constitution?

Thoughts.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit
He spoke to me, I took his flute
No, I wasn’t very cute to him, was I?

steve uhr said...

Hitchens never seemed to mind the contrarian label, used almost every time he was introduced. You are in good company.

Laslo Spatula said...

At 7:55 I comment on the Dylan aspect of Althouse.

Concurrently, at 7:55 Althouse posts a Dylan lyric.

Hmmmm.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

@Laslo

Quayle kinda already brought up Dylan.

Ann Althouse said...

"Hitchens never seemed to mind the contrarian label, used almost every time he was introduced. You are in good company."

After I did the diavlog, I thought of Hitchens.

I have his book "Letters to a Young Contrarian" in my Kindle. I ought to read it.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

'Contrarian' suggests argumentativeness for the sake of being argumentative. I don't think you're that at all. I also resist the idea that calling out bullshit means that one is contrarian or argumentative. What's the alternative? Condoning bullshit is the only way to *not* be deliberately contrarian or argumentative? I resist the idea that an adherence to truth and declining to nod accedence to nonsense means that one is contrarian.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Quayle kinda already brought up Dylan."

But not in the context of shared 'trickster' similarities of you and Dylan.

Specifically: Althouse as "Jokerman."

I'll forgo elaborating.

I am Laslo.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

This 'contrarian' thing doesn't sit right with me, as it also suggests a certain emotiveness that makes it easy to dismiss a woman. I don't like when I disagree with prevailing opinion, without emotional engagement and with my logic and reason, and then get told it's because I'm just so darn feisty and cute and I like an argument. Fuck off. I think with my brain and not my charisma.

Ann Althouse said...

I just added the audio version of the Hitchens book. (If you buy the Kindle book first, you can buy the audio version at a very low price.)

I need to walk around to read some things. Most things, really. Books, at least.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Fuck off. I think with my brain and not my charisma."

That is so darn feisty and cute.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

I stood there and hummed
I tapped on her drum and asked her how come
And she buttoned her boot
And straightened her suit
Then she said, “Don’t get cute”

tim in vermont said...

Just be careful. They made Socrates drink hemlock for asking uncomfortable questions.

Ann Althouse said...

"This 'contrarian' thing doesn't sit right with me, as it also suggests a certain emotiveness that makes it easy to dismiss a woman."

Yes, I think that's why I resisted the imposition of the term. In this light, it's cool that my substitution of another term had him wanting that label for himself too. That was slyly tricky, no?!

"I don't like when I disagree with prevailing opinion, without emotional engagement and with my logic and reason, and then get told it's because I'm just so darn feisty and cute and I like an argument."

Men want women to give emotion. They have an emotional need to see the emotion as coming from the woman.

"Fuck off. I think with my brain and not my charisma."

The brain doesn't work without the energy that we — with our love of reason — like to visualize as separate and call "emotion." But it's all in there in a complicated stew, fortunately unfathomable.

As for fucking, I recommend selectivity.

tim in vermont said...

Freethinker. These guys don't even know that they are in a kind of cult, with their shunning and attacks on the person with an unwillingness to take on the arguments.

Laslo Spatula said...

"I'll forgo elaborating."

Where I was going to go: how a life of internalizing Dylan's lyrics helped shape Althouse's thought processes regarding the assessing of events and culture.

In other words, I probably would've bored people silly.

I am Laslo.

rhhardin said...

Monty Python the argument clinic.

tim in vermont said...

Hemingway purportedly told his friends that they wanted a revolution so that they would be considered men of talent, they told him that if he didn't take a more Marxist stand in his novels, he would lose his friends.

tim in vermont said...

Even the contrarian label is an utter dismissal of your arguments.

Patrick said...

That is my favorite Rolling Stones song.

Hagar said...

Kokopelli.

J2 said...

Reasons for liking Althouse: Never knowing from what angle she will come at a thing. The lack of predictability is enchanting.

Meade said...

Laslo Spatula said...

"Thoughts."

Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within

traditionalguy said...

We lawyers are parts of an adversarial trial put on by actor lawyers and coached witnesses wrestling for a Judge and a Jury Foreman's approval.

You could call us sly for trying to look sincere and dumb to 12 poker faced strangers.

OK, we are twisted contrarians. Confession is good for the soul.

rhhardin said...

I'm a contrapositivan.

tim in vermont said...

Another good description might be "intellectually honest."

Richard Dillman said...

I would say intellectually and ideologically nimble but mischievous when she wants to be rather like the speaker in "Mending Wall."

Sebastian said...

"Never knowing from what angle she will come at a thing." Never?

Of course, in this transgenderist age of unlimited subjectivity, people are entitled to any self-image they care to adopt, but I think the labels tossed out thus far underestimate two of our hostess's proclivities, namely her BS aversion (things have to make sense analytically) and her esthetic sensibility (things have to hang together in an appealing, interesting way).

This makes her approach to some topics very predictable (nothing wrong with that!), and at other times at least superficially "sly" (nothing wrong with that!).

Inga said...

"This 'contrarian' thing doesn't sit right with me, as it also suggests a certain emotiveness that makes it easy to dismiss a woman."

Yes, but men are also contrarians, IMO more often than women. I've always thought contrarians are that way because they resist giving others the satisfaction of being agreed with. Iv'e seen what gets Althouse going in a contrarian mode is when someone comes across as scolding her or her preferred group, or the group she thinks are being maligned or treated unfairly. Of course I may be wrong, we see others through our own eyes.

William said...

Scheherazade. Survival depends on keeping it interesting.

David said...

The Trickster is an old archetype for African Americans. I bet Glenn knows that and decided to be engaged not offended by the notion. http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1998/2/98.02.04.x.html

Snark said...

Oh Jesus Christ. Wouldn't we all like to think ourselves accurately described as perceptively independent observers. Althouse certainly runs on a fundamentally contrarian instinct, which remains the case even if Ann has determined that that instinct is raised because she thinks some person or group is too certain or smug or too whatever. Ann's choices and output as a blogger have kept me a constant reader over many years because in the past they seemed to quite reliably produce interesting and sometimes challenging thoughts and observations. This was in spite of (and sometimes because of) the fact that as a left leaner, my politics almost always differ. A few years ago I insisted that one of my really far left friends who had concluded that Republicans et al were all nuts add this blog to his RSS feed so he could be exposed to interesting commentary from the direction of generally right. I can't express how very much I hope he long ago deleted it because that recommendation deeply fucking embarrasses me today. Althouse's contrarian instincts have (mis)led her so far into the rhubarb on matters Trump that we now have posts that are such naked, cringey, reflexive contortions that I can't even believe it's the same person. And don't even get me started on how weirdly suspicious much of the thinking has gotten. Perhaps that becomes necessary when one who seeks opportunities for the contrarian position is faced with an aberration like Trump.

Inga said...

"Althouse's contrarian instincts have (mis)led her so far into the rhubarb on matters Trump that we now have posts that are such naked, cringey, reflexive contortions that I can't even believe it's the same person."

Yes, very true. I'm embarrassed for her at times. It was quite shocking the first few times she did it.

D said...

"What am I gonna do? I can't survive on my Amerika. If the worst is true, is it just a waste of time?
What am I trying to find? Are you alive, oh my Amerika. Perennial with the earth and freedom, love, and law, and life."

Americans are contrary by nature. (I'm not from Missouri, btw.) Nothing is ever settled, and the people - most of 'em, dont matter their politics, race, etc - want it that way thank you very much.

Exhibit A: the internet.

Rusty said...

I prefer , rascal. There's a word to deconstruct.
I don't think Althouse is contrarian I think she enjoys the precise meaning of language. I also think she likes to turn ideas on their head to see what they look like. That's not being contrarian. That's being mentally agile.