Phrase of the Day: “Cretinous Tirade”


Thanks to an anonymous tipster, we have this awesomeness developing story: cretinous tirade. Since these exchanges usually end up being punctuated with hilarious hysterical hissy-fits, denunciations, and pathetic attempts at covering it all over and blaming the ever-present trolls, read it before it gets erased by either party.

Favorite part, you ask? This one:

My impression of that circle is that they dish it out gladly, but don’t like taking it. And they also tend to travel in packs, for safety.

Objectologist the Father himself, of course does not mind either dishing it out or taking it, right? And he certainly always travels alone and ready to jump into a fight with anyone who dares to raise their voice. I hope more hilarity follows. I suppose now some acolyte will have to edit Objectology Dictionary entry for “Awesome Journals” to exclude the apostate Collapse. May I offer the following text:

The Collapse journal has initially pretended to have strong ties to speculative realism, including initially putting together a feature issue containing essays by premier speculative realists Ray Brassier, Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, and Reza Negarestani. It was later revealed that Collapse was full of envy and stupidity, it was therefore excised from the sacred body and cast out into the darkness.

15 thoughts on “Phrase of the Day: “Cretinous Tirade”

  1. I believe Cretinous Tirade was an abortive project of Johnny Rotten’s in the interim between the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd. in which he sampled and interlaced Parliamentary speeches, Papal benedictions and deodorant commercials and set them to bass tracks by Jah Wobble.

    • Well. Then there’s Cretinous Tirade, the horse who came in fourth in the 1979 Kentucky Derby. And let’s not forget the H.M.S. Cretinous Tirade, a captured former French frigate (Le Tirade Cretinois) in Lord Nelson’s fleet, blown up at Gibraltar when its gunners mistakenly took the third mate’s curse upon stubbing his toe as an order to fire while the cannon-ports were still closed.

      If I’m not mistaken, and I rarely am, cretinous tirade is also a beloved ritual at weddings in the Greek isles, in which members of each family take turns playfully yanking on the bride’s braids from either side; although it must be noted that this practice was forced underground during Greece’s consideration for membership in the E.U.

      • Carl,

        I’m afraid you’re not 100 percent correct on the cretinous tirade in the Greek Isles. There’s more to it. A similar and equally beloved ritual is popular with the Sicilian community, esp. in Gloucester, Mass, but they also kick the bride gently as they circle dance around her. The same cretinous tirade ritual was transformed slightly by the Portuguese fishermen’s community on the North Shore corridor of Boston, but it’s largely a secret.

      • I always get the Sardinian and Corsican cretinous tirades confused. I know that one of them involves waving the bloody sheet out of the window the morning after the marriage in consummated (Karen Blixen wrote a short story with this as the central conceit). A group of village idiots traditionally applaud from below. The other involves the new mother-in-law delicately, yet repeatedly, punching the new bride in the back of the head as she cooks her first tripe/intestines stew for the extended family.

        I think with increased exposure to westernization these things are changing somewhat. For example, in the latter one sometimes the new mother-in-law will change the channel on the kitchen television before commencing with the battery.

      • “The same cretinous tirade ritual was transformed slightly by the Portuguese fishermen’s community on the North Shore corridor of Boston, but it’s largely a secret.”

        Intriguing; but Shahar, could you explain what principle of identity allows you to state this as fact in the absence of specific and verifiable qualifying evidence?

        Jon, I believe I can help. I witnessed the head-punching tirade whilst vacationing on Corsica some years ago, where the tripe stew is traditionally prepared by the new bride upon confirmation of pregnancy. To this stew and its percussive condiment is locally attributed the vigor and hardiness that enabled Napoleon to conquer most of Europe, although next door the Sardinians cite Waterloo as the outcome.

      • Well, I once dated a Portuguese woman from Peabody, Massachusetts who was a direct decendent of Prince Henry the Navigator. I met her in her father’s restaurant one night when I had a bit too much green wine with my cod cakes. The relationship progressed swiftly and I got to know her family quite well. Regardless, I became privy to this information when I attended a pre-wedding ceremony for her sister in which this version of the cretinous tirade was performed. The relationship ended badly, and frankly, I’m scared of her family. Her father’s older brother claimed more than once that António de Oliveira Salazar died not from a stroke, but rather, from having discussed once–after drinking too much grappa in Sicily–the intricacies of the Portuguese cretinous tirade. I have no reason to doubt him as he often sings about such things in a rather gloomy fado. Incidentally, he was known as the Tirada de Critinous in the mostly bloodless coup of 1974.

  2. Btw, this post and the mistake I made clicking through to the links makes me realize again after a long and blessed break that I am notably more relaxed and content when I devote none of my headspace to the doins of Graham and Levi. Not that relaxation and contentment are the ultimate values, but it’s an interesting finding nonetheless.

  3. I’m hoping that as the comments mount, this very thread will become a cretinous tirade of its own as my other attempts to incorporate this potent expression into my daily speech have utterly failed (so far)…

  4. My favorite part of said tirade is the bit where Professor Harman characterizes analytic philosophy as a macho and misogynistic “let’s-tear-each-other-to-shreds-on-the-basketball-court-and-then-smoke-cigars intellectual lifestyle”. I wouldn’t call this a “cretinous tirade”, for reasons you point to above, but it does strike me as a little exaggerated. I mean, admittedly guys like Timothy Williamson, Anthony Grayling, Daniel Dennett and Robert Brandom are well known for cruising down the streets of Oxford, Pittsburgh etc. blasting gangster rap music, smoking blunts and referring to women as “skanks” (though Dennett tends to excuse the latter on grounds that he’s merely adopting “the design stance”). I also have it on good authority that Paul Churchland is still doggedly trying to convince his wife Pat to give up her professorship, leave the brain science to him, and get a job more appropriate for a “ho”. However, while it’s obviously true that there are few analytic philosophers of the moral stature of Professor Harman’s favorite philosopher (Martin Heidegger), I think it’s unfair to characterize the entire discipline as misogynistic – even if it doubtless would have been if that old male chauvinist pig Willard Quine had gotten his scientistic way!

    I also found it puzzling that Professor Harman says in his rejoinder that “Thomas Metzinger is free to assert, in the pages of that very journal, that phenomenology as a whole is a mere tissue of ideology and resentment”. The thing is, I have read that interview, and he doesn’t even so much as mention phenomenological philosophy, nor resentment, nor ideology. I know Heideggerians like to say that it’s not what an author says but what “is left unsaid” that is most important, but I doubt that even Professor Harman’s redoubtable hermeneutical genius is sufficient to legitimately interpret Metzinger as saying any such thing.

    He’s surely right that the Collapse editors to could use a bit of his prose style though, as I’ve noticed a distinct lack of baseball-commentary style philosophical writing there, and hardly even a single list of random objects!

    So I wouldn’t call it a “cretinous tirade”, because as you have all done well to point out above, this term is already in widespread use. But how about “imbecilic rant”?

    • You mean ‘skank’ is not a term of endearment? Huh. Now I know why my wife tried to get me to drop that part of our vows.

      I went to grad school at UCSD while the Churchlands were there, and can confirm that Paul had a thing about Pat walking five paces behind him, and had a larger office with a better view, more real redwood in the doorframe and a closet for his smoking jackets written into his contract.

      Still, I’m afraid I can’t get behind “imbecilic rant,” at least until fond memory of our dear former President has had a chance to fade into the glow of warm nostalgia.

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