If You Want My Opinion …


After a lecture on some fabulously irrelevant topic the philosopher Michael Oakshott was once asked what he thought about some question that was all over the front pages of every newspaper; “I don’t see that I am required to have an opinion on that”, he said.

I think I may use that quote on my Twitter profile.

More and more it seems that social media requires that we have an opinion on some epiphenomena of the ephemeral, and demands that we have the correct one. If we happen to own an opinion that’s a shade off colour or a fraction short of spot on there’s plenty of people just waiting to set us straight and lead us back onto the narrow path of righteousness.

Apparently blogging is all about opinion too. According to a comment on a recent post, that’s what makes the difference between a blogger and a journalist; to blog is to vent a personal, private, passing opinion. Blogging, by this definition, is simply parading whatever happens to cross your mind, more a reflex than a reflection.

It’s true, I have strong opinions on both these ideas, but like George Bush once said, I’m not sure that I agree with them.

There’s a character in a V. S. Naipaul novel (Guerrillas, if you’re interested) about whom he says, “She had a great many opinions, but taken together these did not add up to a point of view.” It’s obvious Naipaul loathes her, and her numerous opinions. Quite what a “point of view” is and how it differs from a collection of conformist cant isn’t really explored, sadly.

So, I’m starting the week with a question, a bit of naval gazing I suppose; we say that Culture Vultures is a “curated” blog … are we curating “a great many opinions” or should we be be looking to define “a point of view”? And, if it’s the latter, whose?

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