Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Primum Non Nocere

"Scandal: gossip made tedious by morality" - Oscar Wilde

What is the single most interesting thing to people?

The foibles of other people, of course.

That is to say, gossip.

To not gossip is to reject our genetic imperative.

The basic rule of thumb for gossip is the same as the ethical guidelines for doctors. "First, do no harm."

If you have met that vital condition then gossip is a treasure that will give and give and give.

There are people who will suggest that it is impossible to gossip and not do harm. Don't pay attention to them - and tell your neighbor about their intransigence over a cup of coffee.

A new book about gossip is reviewed in Slate Magazine.

Say, did I tell you what I heard this weekend about who did what where when and how . . . ?

“I cannot condemn gossip, at any rate not with a good conscience, if only because I enjoy it too much, even while I understand that too much of it lowers the tone,” Epstein writes.

Epstein is particularly admiring of those gossip hounds of old, from the Duke of Saint-Simon and Hugh Trevor-Roper, to Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, who raised the practice to what he calls an “art form.” (After Cyril Connolly caught his two mistresses cheating on him, Mitford reported to Waugh that Connolly muttered, “It is hard, here I have been absolutely faithful to 2 women for a year, they have both been unfaithful to me.”"

Read more:     Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit Reviewed      Issac Chotiner