It was back in May last year that Improbable drew attention to the forthcoming special edition of the journal ‘parallax’ – the ‘Stupidity’ issue. We are delighted to announce that it’s no longer forthcoming, as it’s now been published. The journal carries at least four scholarly papers which focus directly on stupidity – and which mention the work of many prominent thinkers who have had some impact in the field – Henri Bergson, Edmund Husserl, Theodor Adorno, Roland Barthes, Jaques Lacan, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx – but, perhaps most importantly Gustav Flaubert (pictured). For it was he (explains mevr. prof. dr. Mieke Bal of the Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in her paper ‘Not So Stupid‘) who was “… the undisputed master of the thing, or idea, called stupidity.” Indeed, informs the professor : “Flaubert spent his working life staging stupidity.” But notwithstanding parallax’s admirable efforts in furthering stupidity studies, drawing any firm conclusions about the concept in general could, however, be problematic – as it was no less than Flaubert himself who also stated : “Stupidity consists in wanting to draw conclusions.” (quoted in : Stupider and Worse: The Cultural Politics of Stupidity, by David Jenemann).
NOTE: The (public domain) picture above is a photo-representation of Flaubert taken in the late 1870s, but his bow tie has been foolishly manipulated by Improbable, for which we apologise in advance.
ALSO SEE: Annals of Improbable Research special issue on stupidity (and randomness) May/June 2012.