The Windbag

Our liberal regime demands a belief, mostly groundless, in the efficacy of talk. This belief is the source of our parliamentarian prejudice that a talking shop should lie at, or near, the heart of government. This belief stands behind our fawning exaltation of the garrulous gabblers of “the press.” This belief is why you and I feel moved to discourse like Demosthenes at the meeting of our Parish Council, or the Christmas Party Subcommittee. It is why we believe that the balance of history depends on a galvanic utterance in a presidential debate.

But there is a reason that Flannery O’Connor wrote that it is the violent, and not the voluble, who “bear it away.”  Words are mostly wind, and the Big Men of this world are, by and large, forceful but taciturn. Power mostly resides in a capacity to mete out boon and bale, while a silver tongue is a dancing fool.

It is said that the wind god Aeolus penned the winds inside a cave on his island of Aeolia, releasing them on command of the higher gods. When seafaring Ulysses came to Aeolia, Aeolus gathered some gusts from his Cave of the Winds, bound them in an ox-hide bag, and presented the bulging bundle to Ulysses as a means to propel his ship home to Ithaca. This bloviator was the original windbag, and it was by release of carefully regulated puffs from the mouth of the windbag that Ulysses brought his ship within sight of Ithaca’s shore. Alas, he then fell asleep and his greedy crew untied the mouth of the windbag, which they believed was filled with gold. And from the mouth of the windbag rushed a mighty tempest that tossed the waters and drove the mariners back to wander once more over trackless seas.

There is a lesson here for all who believe in the gift of a gushing windbag.

14 thoughts on “The Windbag

  1. It might be argued that we (i.e., Western civilization) already tried monarchy and authoritarianism as modes of government before and it did not work out so well. It also might be argued that we evolved past authoritarianism. True, democratic debate is inefficient but it ideally presents certain safe guards against despotism. But it can also devolve into something less ideal at which times authoritarianism seems more attractive. So it might also be argued that these shifts in government styles are more like a swinging pengulum.

  2. Pingback: The Windbag | Aus-Alt-Right

  3. A TRUMPETER during a battle ventured too near the enemy and was captured by them. They were about to proceed to put him to death when he begged them to hear his plea for mercy. “I do not fight.” said he, “and indeed carry no weapon; I only blow this trumpet, and surely that cannot harm you; then why should you kill me?”
    “You may not fight yourself,” said the others, “but you encourage and guide your men to the fight.”

    Aesop, obviously.

    • It would be impossible to hold your laconic comment up as an example of windbaggery, or even lucidity, but I take your meaning to be that there is no shortage of blowhards on the internet. Granted. But, since I write for free, you can hardly begrudge me taking some small compensation in pleasure at “the sound of my own voice.” I deny, however, that right-wing/traditionalist sites are redoubts of windbaggery, since by my definition a windbag believes in the efficacy of talk. In my experience, right-wing traditionalists nowadays write mostly in a spirit of irony, with almost no expectation that their words will have an effect, galvanic or otherwise. The posts at this site are mostly laments, eulogies and black mockery. This is hardly the stuff to “give to the troops,” but that hardly matters since we have so few troops.

      • Well, my comment was a question, not an indictment. And I was not so much thinking of blowhardery (blowhardiness?) as such, but simply of talk without efficacy. Wasn’t that the essence of your post? Your reference to O’Conner’s The Violent Bear It Away and the forceful, taciturn man of action suggest that even talk that is not windbaggery (windbaggedness? windbagadocio?) is to be questioned when there is so little that comes of it. If “words are mostly wind,” then even laments, eulogies, and black mockeries can fill the Aeolian ox-hide bag.

      • Fair enough. Empty talk remains empty talk, even when the empty talker knows it. And you are certainly correct that too much of the traditionalist right is “all talk and no action.” (I suppose that should be “all blog posts and comments, and no action.”) I’d say that the real question for every individual is, what are you doing off-line? If you are visibly standing for traditional order, in your words and deeds, and are taking lumps for it (as I have), you’ve earned the right to unwind among friends at a place like the Orthosphere. If your an internet tiger whose off-line friends would be astonished by your on-line avatar, maybe it’s time to gird your loins and wade into the fight.

        When I wrote about the liberal confidence in the efficacy of talk, I meant specifically their confidence in the efficacy of talk to change minds and reach compromise. In my view, talk plays a rather limited role in changing minds, although once a mind has been changed, encouraging talk can be very helpful. So I don’t write in the hope of converting minds to the traditional right, only in the hope of helping to sustain minds already converted. Its a cold and hostile world out there, so there is nothing amiss in our spending a little time singing a song and raising a glass around a cozy fire.

      • Yes…

        BUT if that “all talk and no action” is in regards to a) verbally exposing mass “white” self-annihilation and b) avoiding all self-annihilating acts at the personal level… Well then, this is some real efficacious “all talk and no action.”

      • Hear, hear! to Mr. Smith’s last. All points. I have been accused of being a “keyboard warrior” on more than one occasion. I own the insult, but the accusation implies I’m not putting my money where my mouth is. Which is true to an extent.


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