Everyone has been there before, standing around with a group of friends just talking about whatever comes up. No one really directs the conversation, but rather it flows freely. Of course there are always a couple people in that group of friends that have lavish stories, but you somehow seem to doubt pieces of it. Those people are the professional bullshitters. They however aren’t the only ones who do it. You yourself do it, just probably not on the scale of the professional. This paper is about the topic of bullshit or malarkey and what it means to conversation. Bullshit is a form of communicating and it seems preferable over being direct. This essay seeks to explore the purposes of bullshitting as an accepted form of communication through breakdown of the word “bullshit,” and it’s social uses.
Beginning with what is bullshit is imperative to the rest of the paper. Frankfurt begins with the Oxford English Dictionary for his analysis of the first word “bull.” Frankfurt states the OED’s definition as “an informal conversation or discussion, esp. of a group of males” (Frankfurt 2005:34). Bull sessions are often also used to express feelings about sensitive subjects such as, “ religion, politics, or sex” (Frankfurt 2005:36). They do so with the mindset that in these conversation the general rule is to take nothing seriously, and it is to my belief that they are used for pleasure or to blow off steam. Frankfurt (2005) stated:
Each of the contributors to a bull session relies, in other words, upon a general recognition that what he expresses or says is not to be understood as being what he means wholeheartedly or believes unequivocally to be true. The purpose of the conversation is not to communicate beliefs. Accordingly, the usual assumptions about the connection between what people say and what they say are suspended. (p. 37-38)
For example, a bunch of older men at a barbershop or small local diner talking about the weather or WWII stories are in essence BSing. They exchange stories to pass the time and to build relationships, but if you listen sometimes you realize its repetitious. When frequently visiting the typical older population hangouts you start to realize that they say the same “shit” over and over. The substance of word used in the conversation isn’t important, but camaraderie.
The second half of the word bullshit is more difficult to explain but is equally as important to describe the function of the word. The human body does not care the quality of preparation of food or if it came from the far reaches of the planet, but only that it is nurtured. When the body is done processing and has sucked out all the nutrients all that is left is voided waste. Frankfurt stated, “It does seem fitting to construe carelessly made, shoddy goods as in some way analogues of bullshit” and “The word shit does, to be sure, suggest this. Excrement is not designed or crafted at all; it is merely emitted, or dumped” (Frankfurt...