Nay, nay

The world is full of blather. Some days I don’t want to add any more. I suppose the world has always been thus, but the blather wasn’t always copied and amplified. Gutenberg has a lot to answer for; but so do others.

In the New Yorker, or rather its website, I had just read a memoir of the Silicon Valley “CEO talk” that was given to writers and editors of the old American liberal magazine, New Republic. (Two-thirds of whom have quit, with their usual smug gestures.) The speech didn’t actually say anything, as I could judge from the excerpts. If I’d tried to write an old-fashioned précis, I’d be forever staring at a blank page. For it was just blather. Unwittingly, I’m sure, the Boss was “communicating”: that he had no interest whatever in the content side of his proposed new “vertically-integrated digital platform.” (Which means what? Turning the platform on its end?) But as his blather went on and on, his audience would have picked up a few hints. Chiefly, a patronizing insinuation that the way they’d been doing things, the last hundred years, was rather sweet, but must go into the trashcan tomorrow. For tomorrow, everything will be different. Executives like to talk this talk, when the troops are assembled. They are under the curious impression that it is inspiring.

And then, I followed a reader’s link to the Vatican website. There I found some kind of apostolic letter on the consecrated life, which I read with growing bleakness. For it was mind-numbing: page after page of “CEO talk,” in its current ecclesial form. Till I realized I should not be reading: it could only make one want to quit. (I see that the notorious Frenchman, Yves Daoudal, explains what is missing that should be present, and what is present that should be missing, here.) All the monks and nuns in the world were instructed, for example, to “go forth to the existential peripheries.” (If someone heard me say that, he’d know I was suggesting something rude.) Yes, it was all very sweet, that the Church had been praying in that outdated, pre-Vatican II manner, the last twenty centuries. Tomorrow we will all be tossed.

I should like to draught on this occasion some kind of apostolic exhortation, in six words. “Say the black. Do the red.”