534. The joyous (XI)
Schopenhauer observed that popular music is more profound than middlebrow composition because it is concise; concision is precision—and this is genius. Hence the song “Bubblegum Bitch”—first released in 2012 to a desultory reception, only to find its mark in 2021 via TikTok—tells us more about women in the 2010s in its 02:32 runtime than a 345-page treatise by the terribly earnest Dr. Leticia Neuberger entitled Digital Gurls: Femininity, TikTok, and the 2010s. Concision forces a person to be frank: there is little room to hedge or virtue-signal—you have to get to the point. Concision leaves a person bare before the audience. This is all I have, take it or leave it. Concision is masculine, women give and give and give—nature always fecund. Men remove, kill.
Hence Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae, a tome that really has one idea: there is a flux between the Apollonian (masculine) and the Dionysian (feminine) in Western art; and Paglia reiterates this idea over 700+ pages, again and again. She cribbed this one idea from Nietzsche—an idea he expressed in a paragraph—and built a career on it. She gave birth to this big, bouncing book that is really, as with all female products, all about her—the more excessive a work, the less objective it becomes; people who talk a lot talk mostly about themselves—and women always chatter, chatter. Tolstoy realised this in the end: he admitted that War and Peace was too long—he would not have written so much if he knew more about his craft; if I had thought more carefully about this letter, I would have made it shorter—the less you thought about it, the longer it is. Animal Farm and A Christmas Carol hit the mark; so too do the Grimm tales and Aesop. At length you lose the rhythm, lose the thread—short, sharp.
Hence scientific papers that change the world can be very short, as short as a single page or less (Einstein’s “E”); the intense compression reflects intense thought—even Darwin’s idea could be expressed in a sentence, his books were long because he knew he needed many examples to convince the masses (even the scientific masses need to be blinded by quantity).
The principle is associated with the right: the more you restrict yourself, the freer you are. True liberty is not licence—not the freedom to pig out or write 1,000 pages—true freedom is liberation from emotions and desires. True freedom is found in rhythm, a rhythm generated by concision; and the rhythm in that concision is you. The consumer society can never be a free society; it is a society where people are encouraged to indulge, to be feminine—to be excessive, to be slaves.
Paradoxically, the orgy relies on disciplined men to sustain it—when they are used up, everyone goes on a crash diet. Even Trump, a man who seems excessive, excelled on Twitter; the platform’s concision led to Schopenhauer’s pop poetry—an almost Zen-like incantation. In his frank brevity, he offended the decadent; he had to be banned, Twitter is a platform where you bore on and on with bland pleasant generalities: to use it to make sharp incisions in America’s bloated psyche was impermissible. And, indeed, Trump is not really a consumer; he disdains alcohol, disciplines himself on certain particular lines—produces real value. When you deny yourself, you are rewarded; and you are rewarded because you cannot consume it—a magical principle.
There is very little to say that has not been said before. Genuine innovation is rare, genius is rare. The talk that goes on—even the scientific or mathematical talk, the papers in journals—serves as a means to stroke our ape-like backs, to build alliances, to make friends and influence people. Real talk they say online; and yet it is rarely real, you can tell when it is real because the whole shithouse is in uproar—even the word “real” is excessive then.