People, I would like to introduce you to a self-professed "Intellect":

She calls herself “Owl”. Here is a sampling of her literary jewels:

“The Empirical Self of each of us is all that he is tempted to call by the name of me. But it is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves. Our fame, our children, the work of our hands, may be as dear to us as our bodies are, and arouse the same feelings and the same acts of reprisal if attacked. And our bodies themselves, are they simply ours, or are they us?”

One might say that this is incomprehensible drivel. One might go so far as to say that she doesn’t know how to write, if writing is about coherently communicating thought. But then, one might say that the Emporer’s clothes were his birthday suit. And one wouldn’t want to be revealed as “not getting it”.

I once knew a guy who stole just under $ 1,000,000 from from some trusting investors. Curious as to how this might have gone down, I did a quick google search and found the answers in the publicly filed litigation papers. He had solicited his marks by faxing them a proposal that communicated no coherent thought at all. My knee-jerk reaction was, “Wow, he was intelligent, way beyond my comprehension,” but then it occurred to me: it wasn’t that he was intelligent at all; rather, it was that he concocted something that made no sense and sent it to people hoping that they would feel insecure about not being able to understand what he was saying.

He COUNTED on these people believing that “If I can’t understand what I am reading, then I must be stupid. And the guy who wrote it must be really really smart.”

And the wallets flew open.

People are smarter than they realize they are, except for the few posers out there who pass as “Intellects” by peppering their paragraphs with five-syllable words that don’t generally see the light of day outside of the SATs. Those people are far less smart than they seem and a little less smart than they think they are.

Pompously mangling sentence construction does not an “Intellect” make.


UPDATED: yes, I now know that Owl lifted the quoted text from William James, and I note that my failure to comprehend that ALL of her text was attributed to James speaks volumes about (a) Owl’s communication skills and (b) her propensity to plagiarize. Indeed, Owl plagiarized me yesterday, specifically the comment made above about “pompous mangling of sentence construction”. I described her writing as such, and she proceeded to use my exact words on her own blog, without attribution. Anyway, here is a sample of what I believe to be Owl’s own words, although you never know. They could be someone else’s:

“In that context, light waves that move exactly like water across tree leaves is sense pleasure. Undulation, beautiful shapes, colors. The senses mix with emotions and thoughts: delight in body and company, plus a knowledge that all this is special in time and place: the experience is historically unique, so I mark it as precious. An aesthetically perfect moment, a collector’s item.”

Owl takes herself seriously, of this much I am certain.


24 Responses to People, I would like to introduce you to a self-professed "Intellect":

  1. mangotree says:

    I cannot believe I am falling into the trap of responding to this post, but for the sake of defending a fellow intellectual who correctly cites her sources: if you read Owl's OP you will see that she has cited William James as the author of that whole text. So if you are accusing anyone of using words that are too big for anything other than an SAT test, then put your blame on William James whom you can look up here

    I don't know you Lauren, so I don't want to get into an argument with you, but let me ask you this: why do you read her blog if she pisses you off so much, aren't there better things to do with your life. It is not like she's stealing money from your savings account.

    take care


  2. Anonymous says:

    I myself cannot understand or have patience with convoluted language.

    If one is so clever then one should be able to write with simplicity so that even a 5yr old can comprehend what they want to convey? Maybe that is not their objective and they only want to entertain a select few, which then is their right.


  3. karen says:

    That quotation is a popular excerpt from William James'…uh, I think it's from "The Principles of Psychology" if I'm not mistaken.

    Anyhow, it's WJ's writing (and she cited that in the entry).

  4. Googlover says:

    I love your blog. You hold no punches back. Anyways, this Owl person sounds like a frustrated English major. I know b/c-been there and done that.

  5. Yoga Chickie says:

    Funny that you should ask that question, Fatou. I was waiting for that to come up, and I am glad that it did so that I might explain: before yesterday, I have NEVER read Owl's blog. EVER. From reading her comments on other peoples' blogs, I find her to be tiresome and a blow-hard.

    But yesterday, she attacked me out of nowhere for a comment I made on someone else's blog. I was talking specifically to the author of that blog, and Owl piped in and made a crack about me. This led to the battle of words that has ensued, and since I LOVE hearing about myself, I checked her blog to see if she had mentioned me.

    And wow, what a task it was to parse through her opaque writing.

    And thus we come to this very post.

    The end.

  6. Grimmly says:

    This is all so sad, I saw the comment she made, a sentence, four words at most. A poor joke perhaps. But come on YC, don't you think that the insults you responded with there let alone the attempted character assassination that you've begun here is surely somewhat of an over reaction.

    I read the blog your referring to and find it delightful, it plays with and explores language and ideas and she would be the first to admit that sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn't. At times the ideas are complicated, sometimes ideas just are, but I've never felt it's trying to be complicated for the sake of it. She never seems to be preaching but rather exploring ideas, teasing them, turning them around this way and that. She's prepared to respond to all the many comments she receives and is far from dogmatic in her opinions.

    There are some really pretentious blogs out there, I've never felt this one to be one. But it's not for everyone, not everyone enjoys playing with language in that way but then your blog is not for everyone's taste either, nor is mine. Interestingly both of you are prepared to challenge and question the party line and explore it's implications in your own distinctive and inimical ways.

    AC, of course one approach is to simplify ideas. but sometimes you can simplify something so much that you end up with something that doesn't really say anything. Try explaining what Cricket means to an American. I could simplify it and they might say it's just like baseball which would be depressing and have us shaking our heads sadly. Unless of course you had read Dillilo's Underworld ( a book with the hook of a lost baseball) and you might think, well actually, perhaps culturally, cricket is more like baseball than you might imagine. Anyone reading this who's not interested in baseball or Cricket will be asleep by now or off in search of another blog.

    Sorry YC long comment , But the Ashes are on and I can't help talking about cricket everywhere and anywhere. The trophy for this five match series is a little tiny urn inside which are the ashes of an old stick.

  7. Yoga Chickie says:

    Four words? Four words can be VERY powerful. And Owl, being an "Intellect" should know it. But just in case I need to underline the point, here is a quick "Four Words or Less Of Significance":

    1. I love you.

    2. Will you marry me?

    3. I do.

    4. I'm pregnant.

    5. It's a boy/girl/twins/miscarriage.

    6. We accept your offer.

    7. You have cancer.

    8. I'm joining [the] army, mom.

    9. I want a divorce.

    10. He/she died. I'm sorry.

  8. Grimmly says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    Oy. Why get angry at people when you could be having fun instead? jmho.

    And I sort of liked the quote – I thought it was an interesting take (or applicable) to the whole atma/jeeva thing, with atma being(of course!) consciousness and eternal, and jeeva being personality (and extremely mutable, in terms of multiple lives at least, caused by a number of variables such as genetics, upbringing, geographic location, diet and just plain luck – and all being 'things' that can be mine – 'my luck, my genes, my etc.')

    Warm regards


  10. Anonymous says:

    This is for Grimmly :

    For those who like 20-20 cricket, IMHO they should just go watch baseball.

    My sleep is disrupted by 2:30am score update from my husband.

    Can't beleive we didn't win the first test. You guys deserve to win the second test because we were rubbish. Hope Edgbastan doesn't get rain out.


  11. patrick says:

    Four words can also be totally incidental, obvious, or boring:

    The cat is fickle.
    My lunch was expensive.
    Let's do something later.
    I forgot about it.

    How the reader feels about four words is a big part of what those four words mean. Just sayin'.

  12. Yoga Chickie says:

    Four words CAN be absolutely insignificant, of course.

    BUT WERE THEY, Patrick?

    Were they really?

    I know where your sympathies lie, Patrick, and I sense that you wouldn't want to give up your membership card to the "I Am An Intellectual, You Can Tell By My Refusal To Write Clear Sentences" Club, of which Owl is the founding member. So, you're kinda barking up the wrong tree here.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Words have only as much significance as we give them. Easy to say when you're not on the receiving end, but still… 'tis true, no?


  14. (0v0) says:

    YC, I am sorry that my words hurt you.

    I did not take responsibility for knowing who I was talking to before I spoke, so didn’t understand at all how deeply they would wound you.

    The anger that filled my chest and jaw yesterday has turned to sadness and regret.

    Please take care. I would hug you if I could, but the best thing I can do for everyone now is to shut up.
    Bye bye.

  15. Grimmly says:

    Floss, milk and cookies for your man tonight, he'll want to sleep through todays highlights from edgbaston. 20-20 is a sin! Think you need your own blog, still three tests and a half to go, can't keep mentioning the Cricket on this post. Sorry YC

  16. Gumbomum says:

    I think that was a sweet apology from Owl. I enjoy her writing. And Patrick's. And yours.

  17. Yoga Chickie says:

    Thank you for that, Owl. I realize that my reaction was FAR from what might be expected, and I attribute it to what is going on in my life at the moment (I had oral surgery that unexpectedly left me appallingly bruised and swollen, leaving me unable to leave the house for the past week). I think it is all a good lesson in being careful what you say AND being careful in how you take things that are said. We would probably get along just fine in person. The written word can lead to untold conflict.

  18. (0v0) says:

    "I think it is all a good lesson in being careful what you say AND being careful in how you take things that are said."

    This is true. A meaningful esson for me in these regards.

    It concerns me as a professional to have my name left exposed here and elsewhere.

    Of course, the response you make to this information is your own choice.

    The end.

  19. Susan says:

    Here here!

  20. Yoga Chickie says:

    Hey, Owl, as I said before I am willing to delete on a quid pro quo basis. If you rewind to before our tiff, I will too. Easy peasy. Let me know if/when you decide to do it, and I assume since it is important to your livelihood that you will do it soon, notwithstanding your distaste for deleting your writing.

  21. (0v0) says:


    I would like to express to the press corps that these bilateral negotiations have been a success.

    Now that YC has demonstrated a willingness to use nuclear weapons, it is especially important that we all act in good faith to promote peace in the blogosphere.

    May SKPJ, Ganesh, Kali Ma and Barack Obama bless us all.

  22. Yoga Chickie says:

    Nuclear?! No…just W-bombs…

    And done too…re CronYogitecht.

  23. Anonymous says:

    uh… i still think owl is a total goof. her apology was saccharine BS. and yes, YC! it's your blog darlin'. call 'em like you see 'em!

  24. YogaforCynics says:

    Wow…that really takes me back to grad. school…and not in a good way…

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