The Facebook Catechism

To be memorized and repeated at least five times a day, as a minimum before going online.

I saw this really cool thing on Facebook the other day. It said that if you—

No. Don’t. It’s not what it says it is.

But it’s on Facebook! Everyone reads Facebook, it must be trustworty.

No. You are confusing ubiquity with respectability. It’s precisely because it’s on Facebook that you have no knowledge of the real source, only what they themselves say they are.

But, look, loads of my friends have already—

No. Your friends might be smart people, but even smart people can be fooled sometimes.

OK, so it’s almost certainly not true: but what’s on offer is so cool and all I have to do is—

No. That’s exactly the gamble they want you to take. They exploit our natural cognitive bias to presume that things to our advantage are more probable or reliable than they really are. They offer something fantastic for apparently almost nothing, but then you find they’ve actually taken far more than you intended. And even if, once you’ve taken the apprently harmless gamble, you realize you’ve been conned, you’ve added your name to the millions who have taken it, and it looks more and more convincing, such that other people are less likely to realize it’s a con.

Once you have mastered this, you may progress to the Advanced Level, in which you repeat the entire exercise substituting the words “the Bible,” “the Qur’an,” or “the Torah” for “Facebook.”

One worthy, I feel, of Keats himself

As well as being the mother of her country, Evita had a string of artistic and cabaret gifts which she employed to calm the General down when was he was in one of his moods, or sometimes to entertain house guests. A particularly popular talent was her ability to—in the gentlest and sweetest of timbres—fart out the tune of the national anthem, and other popular songs.

The composer Maurice Ravel, an old bridge partner of the General, was visiting once and was treated to this most exquisite and private of musical performances; the experience inspired him so much that he rushed off and immediately penned that classic suite, Le ton beau de cul Peron.

(And yes, I know that’s a gratuitously split infinitive. I do these things deliberately to annoy you, you know.)

Linkage: this is what happens if you don’t believe in the Art myth

In contrast to the pompous dictatorship of taste as promoted by Jonathan Jones and appropriately excoriated in my previous rant, let me link you to a magnificent example of the alternative: a piece by Armando Iannucci (in the Observer/Guardian too; they have earned a kudos rebate for this) lauding classical music: there is no call to Greatness or Art or any of those nonsenses to defend his tastes, merely a celebration of those tastes, an eagerness to experience and experiment with new styles—whether currently condemned by the arts establishment or not—and a willingness to discursively engage with those of different tastes and opinions. Occasionally a little fluffy for my liking, but it’s worth noting the only instance of the word “great” in association with the works under discussion is in the subeditor’s strapline. Iannucci celebrates what he loves, for no other reason than that he loves it: he has no need for mythologized justificatory crutches or fossilized establishment diktats.

I’m with him on Mozart, too. Still don’t get it. Still don’t get it.