Pathos and Bathos


The dictionary defines Bathos as the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style. If there is anyone who knows how to insert Bathos into my otherwise elevated style or mood, it is my friend, Mocrates. He is the leader of our Philosophy Club, but just when things are really getting transcendent and we stand on the cusp of infinity, he demands that we pass him the hemlock. He sent me this quotation:

“It takes a lot of energy and a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you’d do something else.” – Laurence Durrell

I sent him this after seeing him at a used book sale and then going out to lunch afterwards:

Thanks for the burrito, and the bacon double cheeseburger. Thanks for the quote from Durrell. I will put his advice in my heart, and let it marinate. Thanks for finding the Colin Wilson book. It has all the things I look for in a book–plus Neanderthals! Who knew they lived in Atlantis and had advanced scientific technology?

What books did you get? There is a jazz song called “The Jody Grind.” I think it’s by Horace Silver. I don’t even know what it sounds like but the title reminds me of your friend. My sister has a bird named Sisterpants, and it is keeping me company. Does it annoy me? Not at all. I am chatting with Sisterpants as I write. It is like Woodstock and Snoopy. Or Christopher Robin and Eeyore. I am Christopher Robin, and also Snoopy. My brother Tim was Linus. I wished I could be Linus, but my brother Tim was definitely Linus. I couldn’t dispute his claim. I am also Brian on The Family Guy. He is the family dog, but he is working on a novel. He is also hot for Lois. Lois reminds me of Julie. She was my friend’s mother. But there I go, talking about women. A topic you find tedious. So, I will stop talking altogether.



One comment on “Pathos and Bathos

  1. My “Apple dictionary” defines bathos as:
    “noun (especially in a work of literature) an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous.”

    My bringing you down when you’re getting into an “elevated style or mood” is what my philosophy is all about. John Dewey, in a quote I cannot locate, calls it “dragging the balloon of [something] back to earth.” The “something” might be “speculation.” This “dragging down” is the essence of pragmatism, and pragmatism is the essence of my philosophy. And “American philosophy,” too, for that matter. It is necessary to do this because if you can’t understand a statement, it is of no value.

    Example: what does “cusp of infinity” mean? This is the kind of question I keep asking about Barrett’s more sweeping generalizations, you may recall. Now of course it’s a metaphor, so a precise translation into non-metaphoric language often should not be sought. Yet, in philosophy, precision is a virtue, which makes so much of it so unreadable. Nietzsche’s greatest thoughts are often expressed in metaphors, of course. “When you go to women, take your whip with you.” One hopes he meant this metaphorically, at least. NOT one of his “greatest thoughts.”

    The rest of your post would seem to have no interest to anyone but the recipient, and not even to him because he’s already read and dealt with it.



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