Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nattering nabob of negativity -- or just nincompoop?

William Safire first penned that phrase, "Nattering nabobs of negativity," for a speech given by Spiro Agnew. It referred to members of the press, especially the liberal, anti-war media of the time.

Technically it means chattering by persons of great wealth or prominence that is marked by features of hostility, withdrawal, or pessimism that hinder or oppose constructive treatment or development.

I encountered -- again -- one such example the other night during a meeting of arts advocates. It wasn't anyone present; rather it is someone in the community who has decided to attack and belittle rather than to partner and build. We'll refer to that person as 3N -- Nattering Nabab of Negativity.

doesn't really fit the "nabob" category -- more like a 'wannabe' nabob, who because of the individual's approach to problem-solving, will likely fail in endeavors to be either wealthy or prominent. (Perhaps we could refer to this individual as a 'nattering nincompoop of negativity.')

But it sure made my blood boil briefly -- probably a result that was desired by 3N, actually, as I believe s/he rather enjoys stirring the pot and watching others hop.

When people partner to achieve common goals, everyone benefits and programs are strengthened. Especially in a small town, negativism divides, rumors fly, and nothing -- NOTHING -- is accomplished that actually has long-term benefits.

There is no hugely divisive issue at stake here, no radical philosophical differences that would preclude rapprochement. Far as I can tell, 3N is relishing the mean-spirited roadblocks s/he is throwing up, enjoying the discomfiture of those who would rather try to partner for causes that benefit everyone.

There are actually a couple of 3Ns around these parts. And it's a pity. Their superior attitude and contempt for the arts in Tehama County ultimately will hurt themselves most by alienating people who might otherwise support them. I don't want to nurture elitist and negative attitudes with my money and attendance and patronage. Bet you don't either.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's not the wanna-be nabob, but in the Artsy Fartsy crowd you hang with?

Beth said...

No question that I hang with an artsy-fartsy crowd. But it was definitely the wanna-be who was stirring the sh*t. Still does, three years later.

Anonymous said...

Had you ever stopped to consider thathat the person in question just might have been right on point. The type of reasoning you attempt to ivoke here is tantamount to the reasoning justifying the so called moral majority. A majority does not always equal the right side of an issue. But that said I don't know the particulars and you may have a natural born trouble maker in your midst. There is the older term "the villiage idiot" which may have similar application in your instance.

Beth said...

This was four years ago now, and the 3N is still alienating local artists and clients. He continues to belittle any artistic or literary efforts save his own or those initiated by his place of business. We just work around him.

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly spoken. I have a 3N that is currently a client. If it wasn't for my 'do whatever you need to do for the all nightly dollar Boss' - I shake her out of my hair like a flea. I actually feel sorry for her that she's sunk so low into non-consciousness that she slaps the hand that helps her- and lights a fire just to make sure she can light a fire. What a sad state of affairs. It is giving me a gift of insight however, I can take this scene and inspect myself for signals of the same behavior- and make sure I never go off the ethical rails like her. Why be a nattering negativist and poison the whole biosphere of possibility??