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Non-Corn-Pone Opinions

To understand what non-corn-pone opinions are, you must first understand what corn-pone opinions are.

Corn-Pone Opinions

Corn-Pone Opinions is the name of an essay Samuel Clemmens wrote under his pen name Mark Twain. Written in 1901 and first published posthumously in 1923, the short essay is available in What Is Man? and Other Philosophical Writings.[1]

Corn-Pone Opinions describes an experience Twain had as a teenager living in a town on the banks of the Mississippi, years before the outbreak of the Civil War.

I had a friend whose society was very dear to me because I was forbidden by my mother to partake of it. He was a gay and impudent and satirical and delightful young black man — a slave — who daily preached sermons from the top of his master's woodpile, with me for sole audience.
 — From Corn-Pone Opinions by Mark Twain, 1923.

Early on in the essay, Twain quotes his friend Jerry, the black philosopher:

You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is.
 —  Corn-Pone Opinions. [Emphasis added, because this is kind of the whole point.]

This of course begs the question:

WTF Is Corn-Pone?

Corn-pone is used to make corn bread and it was an essential foodstuff in the 1850s.

In Twain's essay, though, corn-pone represents a specific type of self-approval.

Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is conformity. Sometimes conformity has a sordid business interest — the bread-and-butter interest — but not in most cases, I think. I think that in the majority of cases it is unconscious and not calculated.
 —  Corn-Pone Opinions. [Emphasis added.]

Corn-pone opinions are safe, conventional, and not worth sharing.

Non-Corn-Pone Opinions

The opposite of corn-pone opinions, non-corn-pone opinions are unconventional opinions.

The thing about it is, dear reader, writing safe, conventional, corn-pone opinions is a waste of time, because everyone already agrees with those. And as Twain says, in the majority of cases it is unconscious and not calculated.

So what we are dealing with here is identifying — and debunking — commonly held assumptions.

And of course, for many people these assumptions are subconscious.

The Ground Rule

The ground rule here is, I can't care what you, or anyone else for that matter, thinks about my non-corn-pone opinions.

Looking for approval for my non-corn-pone opinions from anyone other than myself would make them corn-pone opinions!

Yikes, I wouldn't want to do that!!

Context

Non-corn-pone opinions, like their corn-pone counter parts, are contextual: they can vary over time and from place to place.

I live in Five Points — in central Denver, Colorado, USA — and have been getting my corn-pone from the UnSafeway[2]  for nigh on 25 years now. Colorado is great: it's neither north nor south, nor east nor west.

I grew up in Richmond Virginia, and spent about two years in LA. Denver Colorado is not too big, and it's not too small: it's just exactly perfect!

Unfortunately, though, Denver is now full, so don't move here. Thanks!

Now you know where I — and my corn-pone — are coming from. Just so you know!

Corn-Pone Politics

As I write this in 2018, the two-party system in America has made politics farcical. Interestingly, Twain saw this sort of thing over a hundred years ago:

[W]e know why Catholics are Catholics; why Presbyterians are Presbyterians; why Baptists are Baptists; why Mormons are Mormons; why thieves are thieves; why monarchists are monarchists; why Republicans are Republicans and Democrats, Democrats. We know it is a matter of association and sympathy, not reasoning and examination; that hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics, or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies.
 —  Corn-Pone Opinions.

These days we can use our geographical context — whether we are in the city or the country — to determine which opinions are corn-pone:

  • Eating citified corn-pone makes people liberal, and liberals take views that are predictably liberal — therefore, in the city, liberal opinions are corn-pone opinions
  • Eating countrified corn-pone makes people conservative, and conservatives take views that are predictably conservative — therefore, in the country, conservative opinions are corn-pone opinions

With this sort of logic, we might be able to find a formula for non-corn-pone opinions — or at least non-corn-pone opinions of the political variety.

Finding a Formula

As far as finding a formula for forming non-corn-pone opinions is concerned, the mixing of liberals and conservatives — such as on the internet and in suburban families — is not a concern. People are uniformly pissed off these days and frequently willing to self-identify when pressed in any manner.

In fact, these days extreme partisanship is so prevalent, and opinions so common and changing so quickly, that we can dismiss conservative and liberal opinions right off the bat.

So we can safely take this a step further:

  • If an opinion is liberal, then it is a corn-pone opinion
  • If an opinion is conservative, then it is a corn-pone opinion

Thus our formula for finding non-corn-pone opinions is:

  • If an opinion is liberal and conservative, then it is a non-corn-pone opinion
  • If an opinion is not liberal and it is not conservative, then it is a non-corn-pone opinion

Former FBI Director James Comey is on the right track in his article Why ‘Truth’ Is James Comey’s Word of the Year — but there are probably plenty who will claim he fell short of the mark because he didn't take a jab at the Clintons.

Well, pfft. Nobody's perfect — but he's on the right track!

Men think they think upon great political questions, and they do; but they think with their party, not independently.... They swarm with their party, they feel with their party, they are happy in their party's approval; and where the party leads they will follow, whether for right and honor, or through blood and dirt and a mush of mutilated morals.
 —  Corn-Pone Opinions.

Don't Assume!

This is not to say this site is full of non-partisan or bi-partisan political opinions!

I am just saying:

  1. Politics provides a huge stream of ready-made opinions, mostly of the conventional, corn-pone-y type — when we take context into account
  2. Today's divisive political climate provides a formula for forming non-corn-pone opinions

Make no mistake, the focus of this site is not the content of this opinion or that opinion, but rather the fact that — as Twain puts it in his essay — in the majority of cases [the opinion] is unconscious and not calculated.

Out, Damn'd Assumption!

What if I told you that the only reason you cannot travel in time is because you think you can't?

Eggs: Assumptions Over Easy

First eggs were good, a staple of the modern breakfast.

Then some researchers learned about cholesterol — and suddenly eggs were bad.

Then some marketers wanted more money and decided they were good again.

Then the researchers dug a little deeper and found most of the cholesterol is in the yolk.

So now you can compromise and just eat egg whites — assuming you're not fed up with all the flip-flopping.

What if I told you anyone who's lived through this flip-flopping will be unsurprised when they change their minds again?

This example makes some so-called facts seem less like facts and more like opinions — and more a matter of context than objective reality.

Most Assumptions Are Stubborn Things

Not all assumptions are as easy to deal with as the assumptions about eggs turned out to be. For example, we all know the internet is changing everything, blah blah blah.

What if I told you one of the most self-destructive corn-pone opinions you can have is the notion that changing jobs without putting in at least two years is job-hopping?

I am still working to let go of that particular nugget of complete bs — but I am working on it!

Voicing my own personal non-corn-pone opinions will require finding, questioning, and revising my assumptions. Seriously, it's cool — I actually have a lot of experience doing this — don't get me started!

What if I told you that while the internet is disproving many old, bogus assumptions, it is also causing people to think up new assumptions, that are equally bogus — and in the majority of cases [they are] unconscious and not calculated?

Learning to forget?  Pfft, I'm an expert — or at least, I'm working on it. Speak in secret alphabets[3]  all you want, I know the name of that tune!

Seriously, Time Travel?

Believing in the possibility of time travel is not enough to make it happen, but we must face the fact that if time travel is in fact possible, then assuming we can't do it is an obstacle.

What if I told you that rewinding and fast-forwarding while watching dvds and the like is good practice for when time travel becomes legal in our own subconscious?

You'll know I've beat the pesky bogus assumption about time travel being impossible when I'm a rich, famous investor.

For now, let's just say that assumptions are bad, hmm-k?

After surviving all that flip-flopping about the eggs — none the worse for wear-and-tear, mind you — I am sure it's just a matter of time.

Notes

  • 1  This is an affiliate link, and it is the only one on this page. Clicking on it and making a purchase helps support this site, at no extra cost to you.

    For more information, you can read the Affiliate Marketing Disclosure, but to be perfectly honest, the essay is only six pages in a book that is over 700 pages long, and it is easy to find online.

  • 2  The UnSafeway is located at the corner of 20th and Washington in Five Points, Denver, Colorado.

  • 3  From the song Soul Kitchen by The Doors, 1967. For extra credit, check out Elvis Presley's song I Forgot to Remember to Forget.