The word "bullshit" has two distinct meanings.

The first is basically "lies". When a certain American president said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman", it was a barefaced lie - though Clinton later tried to redefine "sex" in such a way that, although she was having sex with him, he wasn't having sex with her.

But that's just backing up the original bullshit with more bullshit - the word "sex" doesn't work like that, and however fond politicians get of giving terms like 'freedom' and 'the people' private personal meanings, it comes down to simple lying - as when a different president said "Mission Accomplished".

The other flavour of bullshit is I think more interesting. This is a piece of genuine ad-copy I just stumbled across:

This application is useful for students, small and large businesses, and other organizations that want to increase productivity. Our mission is to empower business people from around the world to reach their full potential. We aspire to be renowned for our capacity to assist our customers in becoming more competitive, in a world where businesses transact at an unprecedented speed.
Through a unique product development process, our passionate and dedicated employees and our excellent relationship with our customers, we strive to deliver high quality and practical yet affordable products.

If I tell you it's about a computer program, does that make things any clearer? What if I say the program is a PDF editor? Not really, because it isn't about the program - it's about the alleged aspirations of the company.

What makes this bullshit is, I think, not that it's false - rather that it's so vague there's no way to know whether it's false, true, half-true, an exaggeration, understatement or whatever.

It's not exactly meaningless - the statements could in principle be checked against observation, so they must be interpretable, however elastically. And that's what makes it both kinds of bullshit - because it's vague and false. We know it's false because business and the marketplace don't work that way, just as having sex doesn't only go one way.

So here's my attempt at bullshit. I reckon it means almost nothing, and what it does mean is so untrue only a teaparty election candidate could believe it.

Our vision is to pro-actively enable the self-empowerment of the people to self-actualise their potentialities, within a modality framework of non-partisan mutuality.

We consequentially affirm with zealful conviction that we can non-destructively and auto-interactively reawaken sublimated and hitherto subaltern realisations, furthermore and moreover depolarising dichotomas vocalities with a view to ever-deepening harmonious fusion of interpenetrating contradictions.

Our motto is our watchword.

What do you think?


  1. I think, as intended, it's a beautifully constructed heap of meaningless verbiage - not that I have the vaguest idea what you're talking about. I especially like: Our motto is our watchword.

    Now you can add 'copywriter' to the strings of your bow. :)

    Captcha = frosali. And yes, it is rather chilly today.

  2. It is mission-critical to my success as a blog commenter that I engage synergistically with your verbal effluvia, helping in some small measure by my effort to transpose your brilliant but isolate peoration to a multi-vocal space redolent with individual harmonics that, in contradistinction to a top-down, monolithic uniformity, serves to potentiate an emergent communitarian purpose.

    This game is fun. :o)

  3. @Camy:

    I shall add "Wropiciter and Spoonerist" to my CV. :-)

    (Captcha: Pleato. Almost philosophical.)


    My felicitations and gratitudes are hereby performatively fulminated.

    Notwithstanding the preceeding however, I emote a compulsion to injunct my interlocutor to cogitate that the nature of corporate newspeak consists not merely in the utteration of noncommon sequipidalianisms with a view to obscurantism, but the utilification of vaccuities for the impressionment of impressedness.

    So there.

  4. Here's another meaning for bullshit:

    Poop that comes out of a bull.

  5. Thank you Mr Wings. One should never overlook the obvious.

    (Captcha: Perin. Reggie?)

  6. At least with bovine faeces, if you let it sit for awhile, it does fantastic things for the roses.

    More'n can be said for that.