If you click here you will be able to read the Spring 2014 issue of the Hollywood Entertainment District BID’s newsletter. It’s chock-full of mockable goodness, but today our attention is focused on page 7, which contains an article called Combatting Alcohol Issues.
Out of the many mockable statements in this piece, we have chosen for today’s post this minor claim as our topic: “As Albert Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
First of all, Einstein didn’t say this, as anyone with any sense of history would have known immediately.1 Second of all, no matter who said it, it’s not just wrong, but stupidly wrong. Third, it’s a dreadfully overworked cliché. Finally, as with so many too-good-to-be-true misattributions, this is an instance of projection; that is, the author’s alienation2 from her own subconsciously perceived or imagined errors, turning them into imaginary characteristics of some delusionally constructed alterity.3
But for the sake of argument, we’ll assume that whoever wrote this little newsletter gem is right at least insofar as her own perception of insanity. Now what?
If you look here you can read the February 2010 issue of the Hollywood Entertainment District BID newsletter, in which the Board of Directors identifies its goals for the subsequent three years. One of these is:
3. Restoring Civil Behavior to Hollywood’s Sidewalks – Pedestrians in Hollywood may find themselves walking through a gauntlet from time to time as they navigate past CD hawkers, tour bus promoters, street characters posing for tips, skateboarders, and non-permitted food, map and merchandise vendors. The board is working on a series of measurable objectives to work with city officials and LAPD to restore order to the sidewalks once and for all.
Statement of the problem: Pedestrians in Hollywood, particularly in the west-end of the BID, may find themselves walking a gauntlet from time to time as they navigate past CD-hawkers, tour bus promoters, street characters posing for tips, skateboarders, and non-permitted food, map and merchandise vendors. In addition to these illegal activities, the busy sidewalks are further impacted by kiosks, umbrellas, selling “stations” and other items of “furniture” placed on the public-right-of-way. The Board would like to see a series of measurable objectives to work with city officials and the LAPD to restore order to our sidewalks once and for all.
They’re slipping backwards. In February 2010 they were “working on a series of measurable objectives” and in October 2014 they “would like to see a series of measurable objectives.” And do they use new methods to get their measurable objectives?
It seems not. They’re still basically stuck on arresting everyone in sight and making fun of them at their security council meetings and not much else. How’s it working out for you after more than four years, guys? Getting any different results? And you evidently still don’t even have “measurable objectives” let alone any progress towards them, let alone new tactics to gain them. Craaaaazy!!!
- For instance, also see The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press 2010, p.474
- So kill us. We still read Marx seriously. At least we could tell Einstein didn’t say anything remotely like that ever. We even read Einstein seriously around here.
- So kill us again. We still read Lacan seriously too. Here’s something that Lacan actually did say, which has some bearing on the present situation: “if a man who thinks he is a king is mad, a king who thinks he is a king is no less so.” (Don’t believe it? It’s in an actual book: Jacques Lacan, “Presentation on Psychical Causality,” Écrits, W.W. Norton & Co. (New York), 2006, p.139) While we’re on the subject of alterity, we’ll mention that anyway we do not read Spivak seriously around here, mostly because we can’t understand a word she writes.
Image of Einstein not saying anything about insanity is in the public domain due to having been made in 1921 and is available from the Wikimedia Foundation here. Image of Gayatri Spivak is released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 and appears here via the Wikimedia Foundation and you can find further details, including the author of the work, here.