Monday, April 03, 2006

Carly Simon's Paradox

If the song is about you, you're not vain, just accurate. And if it's not about you, you're not the referent of 'you'.

9 Comments:

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why this is a paradox. Vanity and accuracy aren't mutually exclusive.

As the old saying goes, just because someone's paranoid, doesn't mean they're not being followed.

-Munz

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger Finnegan said...

No, vanity and accuracy aren't mutually exclusive. But as the song goes, "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you." I.e., "You're so vain in virtue of (probably) thinking this song is about you." But if you're being addressed, and you think the song is about you, you're not vain in virtue of thinking it's about you; you're accurate.

 
At 11:53 PM, Blogger the actual rod said...

If stated differently, this could've been hilarious.

 
At 2:19 AM, Blogger Finnegan said...

I'm open to suggestions

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger That Girl said...

Finnegan, watch your reading here. I don't think Simon is saying "You're so vain in virtue of (probably) thinking this song is about you." I think it's more along the lines of "You're so vain (and as a result of your vanity) you probably think this song is about you." So the vanity and accuracy of thinking this song is about you can both be true. I think the deeper meaning is "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you (Warren, James, etc) but I've slept around with people just like you have, so while it could be about you, it could also be about any number of others, but you want it to be about you, because that's the kind of guy you are, and guess what, it is, you vain prick, but I'm never going to let you know for sure, because I don't want you to have the satisfaction." At least, that's my interpretation.

 
At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm with That Girl.

Also, I think we need to differentiate here between "vain" and "unreasonably vain":

Unless one has been specifically informed to such effect, hearing a pop song on the radio and believing oneself to be the implied protagonist is pretty unarguably an act of vanity. Now, I guess the song really was about someone, and that person alone was being reasonable in his(/her?) vanity. Everyone who thought themselves the song's referent but were wrong were evidently being *unreasonably* vain.

Now, just to propel this conversation forward: What happens if everyone thought this song was about them except the person to whom it actually referred? Or does that make the song objectively inaccurate? (Set aside the fact that Carly only said "you probably think &c.")

- Munz

P.S. After this, I suggest we spend some time on that whole "clouds in my coffee" business. I never understood what that line was even supposed to mean.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger john dickinson said...

Everyone who thinks the song is about them is right, and vain.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Mulatto Jesus said...

No, no, no. You're all wrong. The song goes, "You're so vein (in that certain parts of your body are really veiny), that you would think a song about people with lots of veins is about you. Thus, no paradox.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Mulatto Jesus said...

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