Tuesday, November 25, 2008

She did what????

Some like horror films. I do not but some do. These are unlike more positive films such as adventures and comedies where we envy the heroism or the wit of the characters. A horror film has much of its pleasure tied up in the fact that it is "Not You" going through this. There is a comfort in knowing that at any moment, when the terror becomes to much, you can get up to go to the bathroom (if you didn't inadvertently do so already). Gossip gets it perversity in that particular arena.

Our self interest is very pronounced. We are constantly measuring and wishing and working to make our Self the very best, the Nonesuch. We are ever conscious of what could be a failure in us. And here, the side sin of, and the pleasure of gossip is in the telling of failures. But there are many times when the telling of failure is good and godly; this is where it is not. If the telling of failure gets its currency from the fact that it is "not you" than it is gossip. It will never be a failure about you. Notice that it is impossible, self evidently impossible, to gossip about yourself. So if comparing notes over the failure of someone (be it folly or sin or just poor work by a business) that has none of its satisfaction in the "not you" category, then it will not be gossip. The failures considered and discussed, you may or may not take to the failing, and you may or may not share it with others whose interests are somehow invested. (The reason you only tell the invested of the failure is that without being invested, the only point of the information becomes how it was "not them".) You may even rejoice in the fall of the wicked or foolish but if you take no pleasure in it being "not you", you have not gossiped.

Now those of whom the stories of failure are told would like to have a much broader definition then I have given. Of course they would. A sinner, a foolish man, or a poorly handled business would like to control the bad press. They call that which is not, "gossip" to lower the damage by preaching a code that they might guilt their righteousness examiners into buying. These are of The Anointed Never Failing Clan and, although gossip does exist and is a sin, I would not determine its presence by the definitions they may give. I believe that the Obama campaign is and was a member in good standing of this set. If Obama said something socialist, you looked up a definition for socialism and subsequently referred to the president-elect as a socialist, they immediately called you a racist. The basic tack is to broaden definitions so that all that accuse would be instantaneously guilty of something horrifying.

Of course, when any of these failures arise in others, some tale bearing vultures do cluster around the dead to feed on something other than the measurement of evil, folly and error. This is a risk the wise must take for there would be no possibility of wisdom without the examination and measurement of evil, folly and error. Even when a church announces a righteous excommunication, someone in the pew will be feeling the pleasure of gossip. They will pass the information on with sincere tones of righteousness offended but their joy will be in that it was "not me".

The pleasure of gossip can thus be enjoyed all alone without ever telling anyone anything. That the news came to you did not make it gossip (because it could come to you in all innocence) but the song your heart began to sing on the hearing did.

Gossip traditionally is a chain of communication (sometimes vast) with guilt potentially at every step. That you gossip with others who are obviously "not you" does not pose a falsification of my claim. Those we tell are, at least for the current moment, less "not you" than the subject of the gossip. We embrace them with the "news" and an intimacy arises. Notice the feeling of the shared moment. Is there not a camaraderie? In a sense a club is formed called "Let us look together on this calamity of which the chief good is that it is not we" and we go about seeking new members.

3 comments:

Matthew N. Petersen said...

You may be quite correct, and you may be quite clean.

But the biggest problem I have had with this whole thing is that though you are slow to wrath, you have also been slow to listen, and quick to speak.

NeonKnight said...

I may have perhaps missed some earlier context. What is "this whole thing" referring to?


Philip

Matthew N. Petersen said...

The last post. This post is a response to my objection to the previous post.