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A British school principal (or headmaster) has made the case that left-wing pop star Taylor Swift’s lyrics should be treated as wisdom equivalent to the works and philosophy of luminaries such as William Shakespeare, W. B. Yeats, John Donne and Samuel Beckett.
In an upcoming book to be released in May, headmaster James Handscombe, 46, of London’s Harris Westminster reportedly unveiled this belief while describing an assembly about ambition that he’d hosted at some point in the past, according to The Times.
“As well as providing a meditation on ambition, this assembly links into a rich and vibrant community of scholarship … tied into one of poetry’s ‘wide boys’ and passed on to a great philosopher,” the relevant snippet reportedly begins.
He was basically saying that the topic of the assembly was great philosophers of the past such as Shakespeare and their ties to the great philosophers of today.
“The joke being partly that nobody else considers Taylor Swift to be one of the greatest philosophers of the age, and partly that I really do. We can examine ‘trivial’ pop music with the same scholarly intent that we impress upon poetry or mathematics,” the snippet concludes.
In the 31-year-old singer’s most popular song, “Shake It Off,” she sings, “I stay out too late, got nothing in my brain, that’s what people say … but I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving … I shake it off, I shake it off.”
In Shakespeare’s most popular work, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” he wrote, “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind. Though she be but little, she is fierce! The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Tomayto, tomahto, no?
Speaking with The Times, Handscombe confirmed that he’d meant what he’d said.
“I think she’s really quite amazing — the way she carries herself in an industry that is male dominated, the way that she says the things she wants to say. That her songwriting is telling her own stories and that they are gloriously the stories of a young woman negotiating the 21st century, is a great example for our young people,” he said.
“It always gets a laugh when the headteacher knows anything about pop culture, and it’s great fun quoting a pop lyric completely straight under the guise of philosophy and watching the nudges move round the room, ‘hang on,’ ‘did he just say,’ ‘I think I recognize this.'”
While it’s true Swift’s music is enormously popular, the notion of her being a philosopher hasn’t been as well-received. The story hadn’t really trended on Twitter yet as of Saturday morning, in part because it had been published late Friday evening, but it had been picked up by the Daily Mail, and the comments section was telling:
“This is where the liberal controlled education is going wrong, they should be teaching not showing everyone who their crush is. The worship of celebrity culture should never interfere with children’s education. We have the wrong people teaching our kids right from wrong,” one top-voted comment with 372 votes read.
“Seems the human brain has deteriorated somewhat since the bard was alive,” another with 278 votes read.
The second comment was actually spot-on.
“People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact. In a host of leading nations, IQ scores have started to decline,” NBC News reported in 2019.
The outlet added, “IQ shortfalls in Norway and Denmark appear in longstanding tests of military conscripts, whereas information about France is based on a smaller sample and a different test. But the broad pattern has become clearer: Beginning around the turn of the 21st century, many of the most economically advanced nations began experiencing some kind of decline in IQ.”
For Handscombe’s part, he admitted to The Times that he’s no philosophy expert.
“I described in one assembly having a ‘bluffer’s modicum’. CS Lewis is probably the writer of philosophy or theology that I know best. He also likes to play with ideas, to communicate them in ways that aren’t simply careful analysis,” he said.
“He writes less, and less well, about romantic love but I think he would have enjoyed Taylor’s thesis [as expressed in Shake It Off] that being yourself is key and that following the crowd is dangerous. Lewis’s essay The Inner Ring is rather good in a more earnest way,” he said.
Yet the crowd loves Swift and tends to believe her left-wing narratives hook, line and sinker. Last year she claimed then-President Donald Trump was attempting to stymie the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the 2020 election.
Despite her claim being an “ignorant” conspiracy theory and smear rooted in lies, it received nearly a million likes on Twitter from the crowd:
Trump’s calculated dismantling of USPS proves one thing clearly: He is WELL AWARE that we do not want him as our president. He’s chosen to blatantly cheat and put millions of Americans’ lives at risk in an effort to hold on to power.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 15, 2020
The year before that, she wrote an open letter to Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander begging him to vote in favor of the Equality Act, a radical bill that would gut constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms and also women’s rights on the false basis that doing so would amount to granting gay people rights.
That tweet received over 100,000 likes and inspired God knows how many people in the crowd to also harangue Alexander:
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 1, 2019
It’s not clear if Handscombe realizes this, but Swift is essentially the crowd’s puppet master …
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