Sunni's Salon logo
book review header graphic for Sunni's Salon

Mindless Slogans, by Paul Rosenberg

Mindless Slogans is a deceptive little book, although I think the author might disagree with me on that. After all, Rosenberg says in the introduction that he didn’t intend to cover all the bases in his “bar stool rants” focusing on various statements or clichés that we’e all heard numerous times, but probably haven’t given much thought to. He also admits that his coverage isn’t thorough, and encourages readers to “figure it out for yourself”. Between the common statements (107 of them, despite the cover’s claim of 101 “cheap substitutes for actual thought” attacked) and the casual, conversational style adopted to great effect throughout the book, Rosenberg does say things that will get any attentive reader thinking.

Rosenberg also offers up, almost as an aside, some crucial advice in his very first rant: “stop being so defensive and move on”. There’s bound to be a sacred cow or two slaughtered by Rosenberg’s repartee; or one is sure to have unthinkingly used at least one or two of these sayings at some point—and even if one doesn’t agree with Rosenberg’s argument, they do have some sting to them all the same.

Many common phrases are skewered quite capably in Mindless Slogans. I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovering what slogans he skewers, nor possibly embarrass myself by revealing the ones I quibbled with mentally, so there really isn’t much more I can say ... except that if Rosenberg had published this book before Bush II occupied the White House, perhaps some of the ridiculous things that have come out of that vicinity wouldn’t have been so blithely swallowed. Mindless Slogans might not be as entertaining as similar volumes that undertake to reveal the strange etymological derivations of clichés and idiomatic phrases, but it is much more valuable.

For those who like to debate or argue with others, play the pedant in conversation, or seed ideas for deep thinking in others, Mindless Slogans offers a banquet of starting points. Anyone who wants to rid his speech of hollow sentiments will find it similarly useful, as will homeschooling parents of older children. It’s sure to sharpen one’s own thinking and conversation as well. Whether read in an extended sitting or taken in smaller bites, Mindless Slogans is sure to be satisfying.

Sunni graphic

More by Paul Rosenberg: A Lodging of Wayfaring Men; Survive! (with Rick Chappelle); and God Wants You Dead (with Sean Hastings). See also the Vera Verba blog and my interview of him.