circle jerk

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun Jul 25 02:54:26 UTC 2004

I was struck by the conclusion of Daniel Rodosh's Talk of the Town
piece "The Pet Goat Approach", in the 7/26/04 New Yorker.  It's an
interview with Direct Instruction founder Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann
(now famous as the author of the "The Pet Goat" material featured in
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11").  At the end, Engelmann talks about

"For whatever it's worth, I think Iraq is a total circle jerk," he
said.  "I couldn't think of how to do it worse."

Circle jerk?  The classic circle jerk is a bunch (I think three is the
minimum number) of adolescent boys masturbating in front of one
another.  (An actual circle isn't required.  I think "circle" figures
in the name mostly for its phonetic values: the [rk] of "jerk", in
particular.)  The accompanying values include: showing off in front of
other males, and reinforcing each other's arousal.  (Classically, this
is very much a straight-guy thing, and nobody touches anybody else.
It's a visual thing.)  Plus the fact that it's masturbation (see other
postings on this topic), that is, "worthless", unproductive activity.

Then we get extensions from this in various directions: adults;
standing side to side, touching; openly gay men, frankly appreciating
each other; mutual masturbation;  a sense of exchanging sexual favors.
And metaphorical extensions from there: competitive display, egging
each other on, mutual admiration, trading favors, unproductive group
activity, and so on.

There are a lot of different directions here, and I'm not sure which
one(s) Engelmann intended.  Google cites are all over the map,
including the metaphorical "mutual masturbation" sense of the satirical
(5), though they all seem to deprecate the activity in question:



The Dakota Alliance seems to have hit it rather big, as we all know.
Now they've reached the pinnacle: attention from a left of center blog.

The results are quite strange, featuring little besides name calling:

... Now all bloggers cite or refer to other blogs they read. That isn't
the issue. What gets me is that so much of what's been appearing on
these rabid dog blogs lately is nothing more than "I saw what you
posted, now say something about what I posted." The main variation
seems to be who starts the circle jerk...



April 09, 2004
Circle Jerk

Or, to use the polite Pentagon expression: "incestuous amplification."
Also known as "group think."...



August 21st, 2003
Big Global Circle Jerk

chunshek: I’m telling you. This thing called the Web… it’s all a big
global circle jerk.
sillygwailo: no, that’s just weblogs.



Big Circle Jerk

The lack of cooperation (or should I say the abundance of
competitiveness) and the finger pointing on this topic are typical of
this industry. If cooperation doesn't exist on critical issues between
the parties concerned, there's an opportunity to be an 'industry
leader'. (There, that should satisfy the marketeers, mousketeers, and
assorted corporate gerbils.)




Actors finish orgy of self-congratulation with actual orgy

HOLLYWOOD — In a remarkable moment that didn’t make TNT’s telecast of
the event, Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild awards ended with a
massive circle jerk in which nearly every major Hollywood star manually
stimulated another Hollywood star, bringing them to orgasm while
whispering in the other’s ear how talented they are and that they truly
deserve to win an Academy Award.

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