The Twittle-Twattle of Twatling Twatlers

My oldest son began his second year of college last week.  He found the curriculum heavy, as always, with fashionable twaddle.  His brother also returned to the task of taking up space in our local high school, and in a waking moment found things much the same.

A professoress in a mandatory sociology class kicked off the semester by telling any “homophobes” that might be fouling the lecture hall, that they were not welcome and should drop her course forthwith.  That they should afterwards drown themselves in the river went without saying.  The definition of a homophobe being very amorphous, every student now speaks with care.  There is little danger of unpleasantness when this professoress gets around to her no doubt copious treatment of the rights of sexual minorities.

Another professoress, in this case of Science, explained that the Salem witch trials were exactly what you must expect in a society that has not submitted to rule by Science. That the seventeenth-century witch trials coincided with the scientific revolution did not, apparently, trouble her keenly empirical mind.  She did not mention the curious fact that Newton published his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy a mere five years before the first Salem witch trials began, or that Cotton Mather was a greater enemy of astrology than any member of the Royal Society.  Nor did she concede that witch hunters knew as well as anyone else that cows often fall dead for entirely natural reasons.

In the high school, a humble history teacher opened the year by pointing out that the United States is not a “free country” because it holds some men in prisons.  He proposes, no doubt, to examine this conundrum from all sides, and it may be months before he moves on to ask how a paradise of poltroons can be called the “home of the brave.”

We have the word twaddle from the older word twattle, and the word twattle from the even older phrase twittle-twattle.  In the seventeenth century, twittle-twattle was a name for the meaningless chatter that flows, like a babbling brook, from the mouth of a twatler who is always twatling.

Then as now, twatling was said to be especially beloved of women, most especially those born under the sign of Pisces.  In the words of one old astrologer,

Pisces is good, in that it denotes the woman to be loving and just; yet it will also cause her to be addicted to twatling and prating, which will now and then lessen the man’s love towards her.” (1)

I suppose we should not be surprised that so many teachers are twatling twatlers.  They have many hours of silence to fill, and so must often fill it with whatever comes into their heads.  Nor should we be surprised that what comes into their heads are very often the fashionable fatuities of the day.  Foaming cascades of fashionable twaddle are the inevitable result.

One wonders, though, whether this addiction to twittle-twattle might, now and then, lessen the students’ love towards their teachers.


1) William Ramesey, Astrologia Restaurata (1653)

12 thoughts on “The Twittle-Twattle of Twatling Twatlers

  1. The professoriate lives in a bubble of egocentrism, self-righteousness, and narcissism. It is the most overpaid and useless segment of our society, excepting maybe every member of congress and all employees of the IRS.

  2. Pingback: The Twittle-Twattle of Twatling Twatlers | Reaction Times

  3. Ray Bradbury once said in an interview that he wasn’t much for colleges and universities (he never attended), but that he was strongly in favor of libraries and second-hand book shops. In a conversation not so long ago with Richard Cocks, I stated that I could remember almost nothing of what I learned in classrooms and lecture-halls in my college days in the early 1970s. I can more or less speak and read Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, although I am out of practice, but very little of that comes from actually sitting in the classroom. It comes from having concentrated for ninety minutes a day on the grammar and vocabulary lessons. I know what I know precisely because of libraries and second-hand book shops, two institutions that have almost disappeared. There are still “libraries,” but they have radically de-emphasized books and reading. Amazon and its affiliates killed the second-hand book shop, browsing the shelves of which constituted all by itself a powerful learning experience.

    Educated people are self-educated. A college or university might provide an environment conducive to self-education, but this is decreasingly the case to the point where the opposite obtains – as in your invocation of fish-wife chatter.

  4. A lot of my education came from used book stores, although the opening of internet libraries has made me see that used book stores were heavily slanted towards middlebrow literature. They were mostly filled with books that had been printed in fairly large quantities, and then sold to people who owned bookshelves. The press runs of highbrow literature were too low, and most of the lowbrow literature was thrown away. Not that there is anything wrong with middlebrow literature, but it was a bias in a used-book-store education.

    The best courses from my undergraduate years were unpretentious surveys that gave me a general understanding of major landmarks and boundaries. My best art history professor was generally dismissed as the dullard of his department because he didn’t have fancy ideas about what paintings or buildings meant. He just taught us the names of artists, architects, paintings, buildings and styles, and this has served me very well. He left it to me to come up with fancy ideas about what paintings or buildings meant.

    I’ve come to think that the test of what we call a college education is the conversation of an ordinary college graduate twenty years after graduation. If we make allowances for native intelligence and social class, this is no different than the conversation of high school dropouts. It certainly gives the lie to the fashionable hokum about “lifelong learning.”

  5. Educated people are self-educated. A college or university might provide an environment conducive to self-education, but this is decreasingly the case to the point where the opposite obtains – as in your invocation of fish-wife chatter.

    Dear Tom, I trust you’ll enjoy reading this 1839 Southern Literary Messenger article by “A Native Virginian” on the subject of general education and its importance, when properly done, to aiding or helping direct self-education.

  6. Here is an exemplary example of twittle-twattle:
    ‘T……. S…… was a polymorphous pervert’.
    To the question of what is a polymorphous pervert,
    ‘…answer came there none.’ [Lewis Carroll]

  7. I admire the Left’s ability to get all its beliefs declared uncontroversial, just basic decency, the ground rules that any reasonable person must sign onto before being admitted to the debate. Ah, well. The debate is always over anyway, isn’t it? I’m tempted to ask a Leftist sometime what topics remain on which he will allow that there can be legitimate disagreement. Contemporary man seems to have figured everything out, which would mean that intellectuals and their universities are no longer unnecessary; the intellectuals and universities have nevertheless signed onto this belief.

    • I think it just comes as a privileged of the majority. Pagans fed Christians to the lions, Christians burned heretics at the stake, Leftists treat us like pariahs and destroy our livelihoods if they can. I guess it’s better than lions or the stake, but its ironic coming from a movement that rose to power under the banner of free enquiry.

      The ban on homophobia strikes me as an extreme case because the proscribed attitude is perfectly amorphous, and can easily be defined in a way that would put 99 percent of humanity beyond the pale. This is the sort of thing that holiness spirals are made from, since failure to cheerfully engage in homosexual activity might be said to result from a fear of that activity.

      When I came out as a man of the Right, perhaps half of my professional friends simply cut me. I occasionally get a message from a young geographer who is on the Right, is a little scared, and has somehow gotten wind of me. A copy Aragorn and tell them they are not scared enough.

  8. Pingback: Cantandum In Ezkhaton 09/01/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores


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