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The Misunderstood Award seeks to accolade those thinkers whose ideas have been so warped as to become as good as opposite to the original intent. Paraphrasing Kipling, they are witnesses to the truth they spoke being twisted by knacks to make a trap for fools. A little tragicomedy where the more someone feels identity with a given thinker, the more likely he’ll be labouring at destroying his thought. So, without much further ado, this year’s prize goes to:

Pierre Bourdieu

Bourdieu, together with some other french sociologists in the last part of the XX century, tried to show that societies create ideas according to their own purposes. This means that the ideas are part of the process whereby the society reproduces itself, both as tools for it and as consequences of it. So for example the set of values a given group espouses helps this group to sort through and incentivize the kinds of member-behaviour that will further the groups’ objectives. In other words, ideas are not independent from the power structures that harbour them, as they incorporate the biases and privileges and asymmetries of society.

This of course takes knowledge and discourse as valuable, and focuses a lot of attention in them, mainly as a fruitful object for study. Misunderstanding arrives when this valuation of discourse is taken as proof that what someone says is so important that you should actually fight over it. Read More »

Besides overusing a certain vowel, there is something in common between the Wii and the iPad which one seldomly sees mentioned: They are both all about an input device. Of course something like that should not be without consequence…—

A friend asked me that, ¿What is the meaning of life? It would be relapse of me not to quote the wisest of men:

to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms – Genghis Khan

That was a joke. This sad tyranny of political correctness we live in forces me to preemptive disclaimers.

There are a thousand clever things to say when asked the meaning of life, but those answers are more replies than explanations. In cases like that, i tend to assume the question is defective, that it does not in fact dig into what it means to dig. Read More »

Um amigo me perguntou isso aí em cima. Eu seria relapso se não apresentasse a resposta do mais sábio dos sábios:

Dizimar seus inimigos e estuprar suas esposas. — Genghis Khan

Isso é uma piada. Vivemos num mundo tão tosco que eu sou obrigado a colocar uma retratação depois.

O lance é que há um milhão de coisas “espertas” pra se dizer depois dessa pergunta, mas, no fundo, nenhuma dessas coisas responde. Nesses casos, eu tendo a pressupor que a pergunta está mal formulada — ou, inversamente negando, que a pergunta tem baixo poder de penetração.

Isso também foi uma piada. Read More »


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