On Bullshit

I have read 1984 twice already and also saw the movie, though I admit quite some time ago. I decided to forgo reading it a third time and instead picked up On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt, for the second time. On Bullshit is only 67 pages long, and the pages are about 10 by 15 cm, with (shall we say) ample margins. It is a magazine article disguised as a book, which, I suppose, is better than a magazine article expanded to fill a book.

On Bullshit is either (a) tedious and poorly written, (b) a parody of philosophical writing, or perhaps (c) both. It is a long time before the author gets to the point but eventually he distinguishes among lying, bluffing, and bullshitting: A liar knows the truth but overtly tries to make you believe the opposite; a bluffer knows the truth but tries without lying to make you believe the opposite; and a bullshitter tries to make you believe something without the slightest concern as to whether it is true or not. Unless you are interested in Wittgenstein’s statement that you do not know what a dog feels like and the attendant discussion of whether a simile is a lie, I think I have just summarized almost the entire book.

Speaking of bullshit, and as if the Ark Park is not bad enough, I notice that someone is making a movie out of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. (Confession. Some time ago, I read The Case for the Creator, probably the student edition, but not The Case for Christ. I was, to say the least, not impressed.)

On second thought, instead of rereading 1984, maybe I will just rewatch The Manchurian Candidate.